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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Broad Vocabulary Reopens

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April 3 marks the re-opening of A Broad Vocabulary, Milwaukee's feminist bookstore recently. Closed since November 2008, this spring brings a new space on the East Side, a new ownership structure, new ideas, and new events.


Presently, the plan is to be open once a month in their new home in the basement of People's Books, located at 2122 E. Locust Street, with the goal of increasing hours as things come together. "It's not just that we're open for business, but give people a reason to come hang out with us and maybe buy some books on the side, says board member Stephanie Schneider, "but once we get a volunteer base, hopefully that will increase."


Having changed from a privately owned business into a co-op in November of 2008, when A Broader Vocabulary Co-op purchased the store inventory from the owners at the time, is one huge adjustment the organization has gone through.  "It costs $25 to become a co-op member, which essentially means that you're a co-owner in the organization and have the right to come to all member meetings and make decisions about what's going to happen with, essentially, your company," according to Kate Jesse, a member of the coop board that steers the store and its events.


While the location and ownership are different, the impressive array of books has remained the same. "We have something like 30 categories of books, everything from LGBT and feminist studies, which you would expect to find, all the way to books like outdoor activities," said Jesse.


They're staying open to suggestion, also. "We've got a list on the wall where people can write down titles of books they'd like to see in the store," according to Schneider. "We've also got an open discussion on our Facebook page where people can tell us what they think we should bring in," she said.  


Not just in the business of selling books, ABV plays host to events, as well. "Our feminist forums are spearheaded by Erin Stoekl. Erin chooses a reading or a few readings and kind of encourages discussion on any topic at all relating to feminist thought or something," said Schneider. Author presentations are also a favorite event of the Broad Vocabularians.  


"We're not promoting a particular definition of feminism, because that can vary a lot—it's a discussion of learning and people. We're partnering with other groups in the community that are like-minded. We're not here with a particular ideological agenda, but more as a place for people to kind of figure out their own," according to board member Annie Weidert.


The next big event planned after getting the store on its feet is a performance by Sister Spit, a spoken word troupe from San Francisco whose presentation deals issues facing women and the LGBT community.  The event takes place April 21 at UWM's Bolton Hall, Room 150.