October 7, 2014

Portland’s In Other Words bookstore faces possibile closing


Portland's In Other Words might have to close down. via InOtherWords.org

Portland’s In Other Words might have to close down.
via InOtherWords.org

Even if you aren’t familiar with Portland’s feminist resource center & bookstore In Other Words, there’s a good chance you know what it looks like. It’s a frequent sighting on IFC’s sketch comedy show Portlandia, which films its scenes for the satirical feminist bookstore — Women and Women First — at the community center.

Earlier this week, though, the board that runs the store announced that it has hit hard times in recent years and might have to close its doors if it doesn’t receive an influx of cash soon. Kristi Turnquist writes for the Oregonian that the board called a general meeting on Sunday, where treasurer Madeline Jaross said that the store has “kept going due to desperate attempts by a very small handful of people that are trying so hard,” but that outside extraordinary circumstances, “I haven’t seen a path where we can continue.”

The appearances of the space on Portlandia have increased visibility and awareness of In Other Words, but board member Jane Knetchel says that while the show “has given the space the illusion that we’re rolling in money,” (…has it?), this hasn’t led to financial viability. Due in part to the loss of income from textbook sales (which accounted for almost half of their revenue), the store/community center has been losing some $600 a month recently.

Jaross emphasized that the purpose of Sunday’s meeting was not to determine the fate of In Other Words. Rather, the board used the time to rally the community. Attendees were given paper to write down fresh ideas to reinvigorate the nonprofit, and volunteer signup sheets were distributed. Another meeting is scheduled for November 8, which will include more definite discussions of plans for the future; Jaross asked people who turned up for the meeting to spread the word about the store’s needs for revenue and volunteer support in the weeks leading up to that meeting.


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.