Back to <-- DotComs and the Information Revolution
GLAD DAY'S TRAGIC AND HILARIOUS FAREWELL
Fair Use Statement
Source: HOLT UNCENSORED
Contents for Holt Uncensored #161
Tuesday, June 20, 2000
GLAD DAY'S TRAGIC AND HILARIOUS FAREWELL
I can't remember a more hilarious or tragic letter than John Mitzel's
farewell notice about the closing of Glad Day Bookshop.
It's an occasion that makes one wonder which is "worse" -- being
gay or being an independent bookseller in Boston.
Thanks to the very funny and outraged language of store manager
Mitzel, the letter keeps us chuckling while our jaws drop in shock
at the turn of events after Glad Day, which serves the gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender community (click over to
http://www.gladday.com and see how extensive it is) learned that
it had lost its lease.
Glad Day's landlord had sold the building, which will soon be
converted into "luxury residential condominiums." It seems the
dotcom invasion has hit Boston in the same way it has other cities,
driving property values into nosebleed territory.
So this is not the familiar story of an independent bookstore
struggling to stay alive and sinking, sinking until finally the Good
Fight has exhausted owners and staff and forced a heart-breaking
It's rather the saga of an established and healthy 21-year-old
independent bookstore that has been looking to relocate since
April, and whose owner, Jearld Moldenhauer, is ready and willing to
pay for new digs in the Boston area. And still the end is heart-
"One space we very much desired," Mitzel writes, "turned out to be
in the hands of a corporation that toyed with us for weeks, wasting
our time, ultimately rejecting us, allegedly for 'not having the right
financials,' whatever that means.
"I asked another realtor: 'Doesn't being successful in the
community for 21 years mean anything?'
"He said: 'They don't see that. They want a national chain with
deep pockets, so if they have to sue to get the rent, the chain just
cuts the check and they don't have to chase after the Mom and the
Pop that went out.' "
Glad Day hardly fits the bill of the Mom and Pop struggling
concern. "We are a successful small independent bookshop in a
niche market which we have serviced in a comprehensive manner
since 1979," Mitzel writes. "We have a staff of seven; the store
pays for the full health coverage plan for all the full-time staffers.
We have extensive dealings with libraries, book clubs, school
Not extensive enough, apparently: "I asked after a property [that
one realtor] represented," writes Mitzel. "I told him what our
business was. There was a -- what used to be termed pregnant
(why?) -- pause. He told me: 'No one in the Back Bay will rent to
people like you.' I am rarely at a loss for words; this gent's
statement had me breathless.
"I recalled the 1970s in Boston, after a Federal Judge had ordered
busing as a mandated remedy for public school segregation. The
busing set off a civil war here in Boston, from which we still bear
scars. One black leader at that time was on the TV, being asked
by a journalist his thoughts on the 'busing crisis.' The gentleman
looked at the camera and said: 'It's not the bus. It's US!' This would
become my/our threnody.
"We were shown run-down traps with asbestos walls. One joint had
a hole in the floor. I found a nice spot in 'upcoming' Central Square
in Cambridge. The elderly gent who owned the property had his
lesbian daughter come over and check us out. We didn't pass the
test. She told the realtor, who told us: 'Too much male imagery.'
Well, there you are . . .
"I have never been one to sing the praises of the rentier class, and
my recent experiences make all my radical and critical tendencies
against the greedy landlord class even more agitated. What have I
"Glad Day owner Jearld Moldenhauer and I were reminiscing about
what we had faced in getting our previous two locations. Guess
what? The same as this go-round: the subtle (and in some cases
not so subtle) prejudice against a gay book business with a pro-
sex attitude--and, yes, we have always carried all the books and
magazines, soft and hard, for our market, part of Glad Day's
complete commitment to offering all legal product to our
"Some realtors had no idea what a gay/lesbian bookshop was
about. One said: 'Don't you have those peep shows that cost a
quarter?' At least he seemed to know about them.
"One realtor, after I informed him that we were an independent gay
and lesbian bookseller, paused -- that awful pause, well, you just
know what's coming, don't you? -- and this fellow said: 'An
independent bookseller. How quaint. Doesn't everybody simply buy
their books on amazon.com?' Rentier class meets the thundering
"The Pod People really have taken over. Jearld Moldenhauer, just
yesterday, was speaking with someone who works in the Mayor's
office about our situation, and Moldenhauer said: 'The reason I
decided to open a bookshop here in Boston [he already had a shop
in Toronto, Ontario] back in the '70s was not only because Boston
had a progressive and very active gay movement, but because
Boston was a book town, with lots of bookstores and used
bookstores and a culture of books.'
"One by one we have seen them go down, and not just the sweet
independents but the chain stores, too. The real estate market has
got too hot and too greedy to want to 'risk' those enterprises that
add cultural value to this town . . .
"I asked one realtor, after we had been shot down, why there are
now sixteen --16! -- Starbucks coffee joints in Back Bay and the
South End. In the war against drugs, caffeine seems to be the
"So, now Boston, once a great city of books and youth and venues
of intellectual creativity and dissent, comes to look like every other
American 'mall' city.
"I thought Glad Day had a chance to go on -- you know, they won't
even take our money. Friends assure me the crash will come,
some of the greediest will go head first out the windows, a la 1929,
overleveraged and never knowing a downturn. We'll see about that.
"Thus the boom has given us this: more of the same and the killing
off of the odd, niche, daring and different . . .
"I recommend to our on-line and e-mail friends that you look to our
sister store in Toronto, the original store, and all inquiries and
orders and requests you will find served as well as here in Boston.
You can reach them at: Glad Day Bookshop, 598A Yonge Street,
Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 1Z3, Canada. Phone: 416-961-4161. Fax:
416-961-1624. E-mail: [email protected]
"I can't possibly say Good-Bye. It would break my hard-hearted
heart. For Jearld Moldenhauer, the staff and myself, I will say to
you: 'Ciao!' And THANK YOU ALL!"
Loss of independent retailers has become an old story, of course,
ever since chain stores and the big-box superstores arrived
decades ago. I thought I had gotten used to getting out of the car in
Anytown USA and seeing the same familiar mix of Office Max,
Home Depot, Starbucks, Target, Sears, Denny's and so forth.
But now, looking at the urban landscape through Mitzel's eyes and
thinking again about the speed, speed, speed theme of the last
column (#160), suddenly I see it. What he calls the Pod People are
working this "hot and greedy" real estate market like puppeteers,
with dot.coms slithering in everywhere and making people THINK
remaining independent retailers are out of fashion, shaky to their
foundations and expendable.
To think observers thought (okay, I thought) the worst that could
happen to independent booksellers was adjusting too late to
electronic books. This new threat - rents soaring, buildings sold,
leases lost - in cities and suburbs already mined with DSL for the
dot.com revolution, could not come at a worse time.
Didn't find what you are looking for? We've been online since 1996 and have created 1000's of pages. Search below and you may find just what you are looking for.
Michael R. Meuser
Data Research & GIS Specialist
MapCruzin.com is an independent firm
specializing in GIS project development and data research.
We created the first U.S. based
interactive toxic chemical facility
maps on the internet in 1996 and we
have been online ever since. Learn more about us and our services.
Have a project in mind? If you have data, GIS project or custom shapefile needs contact Mike.
Report Broken Links
Subscribe for Updates