This month our co-operative turns eight years old and anyone who’s celebrated more than a couple of those birthdays with us knows that we’ve never really settled into our age. We’ve recreated ourselves continuously, always striving to offer more to our community while deepening our embodiment of our values as a radical project. This year our birthday has a new context: the home stretch to our first anniversary in West Asheville!
Opening a new space has been unbelievably dynamic and fulfilling. It has also meant that our co-op has had to wrestle with the challenges of being a “new” business in a tough market, and like other new businesses, our survival has not been guaranteed. As we approach summer, we’ve found ourselves in a difficult position. Although our work and passion is directed into local communities, we are financially supported to a large extent by tourists. As a queer-owned bookstore with a focus on culture and politics, we are specifically dependent on progressive and LGBTQ travelers -- the sort of folks who are now most likely to skip the trip to North Carolina as a result of HB2. In April we suffered a dramatic loss of revenue, calling into question our financial stability as a business and community project.
Much of what we do at Firestorm isn’t about generating sales. Free event space, public internet terminals, community art exhibits, sharing tools and knowledge with other like-minded projects, fundraising for local activists, breaking ground on a new community garden, etc. We can’t continue this work without stronger financial support from our local community. This could be as simple as walking an extra couple blocks to buy your morning coffee from us; or it could be a more involved collaboration, connecting our co-op to new resources and opportunities.
We’ve seen what a year in West Asheville looks like and we want more -- but we can’t get there without you, nor would we want to!