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Black Garnet Books looks to be only Black-owned bookstore in Twin Cities

Founder Dionne Sims said the bookstore would stock primarily Black and racially diverse authors.

ST PAUL PARK, Minn. — The death of George Floyd sparked protests for justice and change across the country, and a flurry of enthusiasm to learn about racial injustice in this country from a book. If you could get one by supporting a Black-owned bookstore, even better. There lies the problem for Minnesotans like Dionne Sims.

Sims said at least two known Black-owned bookstores in the Twin Cities are closed. She said that means there are now no Black-owned bookstores in the entire state. According to a list compiled by the African American Literature Book Club, she's right.

Sims took to Twitter on June 15, tweeting, "Minnesota doesn't have a black-owned bookstore. I think that's my new dream."

"And it just went viral," Sims said.

It was retweeted more than 700 times, and liked 14,000-plus times.

"It was just an incredible experience to be like, 'Oh this is a real need,'" Sims said. "It's not just something that I'm imagining myself and people want it," she said.

So Sims tweeted a couple of hours later "I want to do this."

The user-experience designer by day founded Black Garnet Books.

Sims has never owned a business before, but no sweat.

"No one who opens their first business has ever opened a business before you know?" Sims said.

She said they want to sell online first, eventually opening up a physical location with shelves featuring words from N.K. Jemison, or poets like Eve Ewing, of course, even Octavia Butler.

"We would stock primarily Black authors and also racially diverse authors," Sims said.

"People really crave the ability to walk into a space and especially a bookstore and know that they're going to find themselves there," she said.

Until then, customers are waiting.

"As if there was a wall of people behind a door and they're all standing there like, 'We're ready to come in!'" Sims said.

Sims said her crowdfunding campaign will launch on Friday.

Join our #Sunrisers Book Club Facebook page to learn more about what else is going on in the Minnesota reading community. 

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