Independent Bookstore Day is quickly approaching (April 30th!), and we wanted to celebrate by introducing you to spectacular shops that you should visit. Today we’re featuring Wild Iris Books, located in Gainesville, Florida – continue reading to discover what makes this bookstore unique, and all the great events they have planned!
What are some fun facts about your store?
Wild Iris Books is Florida’s only feminist bookstore and has provided feminist bookselling space for over 20 years in Gainesville. Our inventory reflects a lens of intersectional feminism – women’s studies, minority studies, trans, queer and LGB studies, and alternative children’s books. We collaborate often with other non-profits in the area including feminists and other social justice activists.
Why do you think indie bookstores are essential?
Indie bookstores are essential because books can be magical and sacred things and few people love books as much as indie booksellers. Indies also help to build up local authors, supporting the storytellers in our community. And shopping at Indies keeps more of our money at home, going to people living and working and loving in our own neighborhoods. Feminist bookselling is so vital to us because with the bookstore we can encourage and support a space for ideas, activist work, and critical analysis of systems of oppression in our society.
Can you tell us about the activities you have planned for Independent Bookstore Day?
This year Wild Iris Books and our neighbors – The Civic Media Center, SAW, and the Citizens Co-op – are teaming up to create a block party for Independent Bookstore Day. The celebrations from 10am-4pm ET on South Main will include authors, UF student readings, live painting, music, community art projects, and more.
Local authors will be taking shifts during the day as guest booksellers at Wild Iris – talking about the books that changed their lives and helping people find their next great read. Lauren Groff, local author of Fates and Furies, was selected as the IBD Author Ambassador for 2016 and she can be seen in her IBD YouTube video encouraging local community members to, “buy dozens of books!” when they visit their favorite indie on Saturday, April 30th. Lauren will be guest bookselling all day with Wild Iris and is crafting gift bags for the first 20 customers of the day.
Guest Booksellers will include: Lauren Groff, Joe Haldeman, Tom Hart, Leela Corman, Sandra Lambert, William Hatfield, Write Handed Poet A. Denèe, and Leanne Lawrence.
Community Guests and Activities: WellFlorida Council, Inc. live painting with the Art of Carrie Martinez, Alachua County Humane Society, music with Mama Trish, African dance performances with larry d rosalez-lewis, poetry by Mellow Soul Tuesdays, Alachua County Library, Girls Rock Camp, Gainesville Area NOW, Trans Affairs, readings with UF MFA students, and more!
Beyond IBD, what exciting events/activities are happening in your store?
One of the events we are most proud of is our monthly Free Store. We collect donations from the community of just about anything – clothes, shoes, housewares, kids items and then hold a huge Free Store where people can come and take anything they may need. We’ve been hosting this for over a year and each Free Store we have an average of 3 truckloads of donations. Being blocks from a homeless shelter – lots of people have come to depend on Free Store to supplement what they need. We have volunteers who purchase hygiene products, diapers and pads/tampons that we distribute as well. We’ll continue to do this monthly. Free Store Facebook Page
*Erica Merrell, Co-owner of Wild Iris Books, interviewed by Tarah Theoret