MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) — A 22-year-old Milwaukee man has big dreams of opening his own bookstore co-op in Milwaukee and those dreams are quickly becoming a reality.
“My goal is to push and ignite the regional literacy of Black people in this city and also through books, let people know that community is the resource,” Thomas Leonard said.
Leonard has been taking new and used book donations at his mom’s hair salon, a temporary location until he finds a permanent storefront.
“Right now, I have two options,” he said. “I’m working closely with a non-profit in the city to have the bookstore there, or I’ll open pop-up locations throughout the city.”
Leonard’s Facebook post asking for book donations garnered a lot of attention in just a few days. By Wednesday, people were coming out in droves.
“The past two days were not like this,” he said.
Leonard also added the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses.
“By saying 'Black Lives Matter,' we also mean Black cooperatives matter, Black economics matter, and we want to push giving opportunity to young Black people,” he said.
Leonard’s primary job is working through a non-profit with student interns who are involved in social justice projects throughout the city. He said he plans to involve them in the bookstore too. He said the store will act as a co-op and be membership-based.
“People will pay a certain amount into the business and they’re able to get two or three books per month and throughout the year, they continue to pay,” he said.
He said his goal is to have a brick-and-mortar location by Friday.