Last week, Greenwood bookstore Couth Buzzard launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $9,500 in order to keep the store going. Owner Theo Dzielak announced that the store needed the money to address "sharp increases in rent, license fees and taxes, supporting our employees with fair wages, the effects of new health and environmental regulations, the ongoing need to repair and replace aging equipment, and many other costs."
The store is now more than halfway to the goal. I called Dzielak to discuss the campaign and the Buzzard's future. "I'm happy with the way it's going," Dzielak tells me. Even though "it's not the easiest thing to do to ask for money," he admits, "we've been building community for a long time and I knew people would step up."
Finding items to sell for the fundraiser was easy, Dzielak says. "A number of local authors stepped forward and donated copies of their books: Peter Mountford, Nick Licata, and David Shields. I know a lot of local artists and they donated paintings and pottery - they all stepped forward and said 'how can we help?'"
Dzielak notes that sales at the Couth Buzzard increased last year, and continue to climb. The money from the GoFundMe will help the Buzzard invest back into the store to meet the customer demand. For years, Buzzard has carried a mixture of used and new books. Over the last few years, customers have gravitated more toward the new titles, and Dzielak intends to invest in a larger collection of new books to make his stock more relevant. Additionally, the funds will support "bringing new products to the café and support other advertising and increase the slate of events."
Owning a bookstore and community center, Dzielak says, is "an experiment every day." He's proud of the Buzzard's loaded events schedule, which includes book clubs, open mics, musical performances, and readings. This Saturday, the Buzzard is hosting a cabaret tribute to Ursula K. LeGuin featuring Scott Katz, Jeffrey Robert, Lydia Swartz, David Fewster, Matt Price, Arni Adler and Kathleen Tracy. Dzielak is also looking forward to the launch party for Sibyl James's new book Hard Goods & Hot Platters on March 22nd. The wide variety of events, Dzielak says, confirms that the Buzzard is "not just a bookstore. It's a community where art is made."