by Alia Tawil


Blue Stockings:
A bookstore for the community

"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it."
                                                                                                            ~Margaret Fuller

New York City’s Lower East Side teems with the funky, the alternative, and the activists of East Coast society. In the twisted streets that drop below the midtown grid, shops support upcoming artists, independent politics, and left-wing lifestyles. Nestled in this neighborhood and in the mission of its community, lies Blue Stockings, a radical bookstore whose policies support all things outside the majority.

With over 4000 books on topics as varied as global capitalism, law enforcement, racism, homosexuality, gender studies, and feminism, this cozy store takes pride in promoting material that is raw, researched, and under-represented in larger mainstream bookstores.  Along with their extensive collection of books, each nook is gracefully laden with periodicals, journals, or non-literary items of the unusual and hard-to-find sort. For example, Blue Stockings is the only vendor in New York that carries alternative menstrual products like the “Diva Cup” and the “Keeper.”

This diamond-in-the-rough of bookstores also makes a supreme effort to engage the community in its proceedings. After extending their hours, the bookstore began hosting free events almost nightly, including readings of in-house books and open mike poetry nights. Events tend to educate as they entertain. One evening may flaunt lesbian knitting night, and the next day may host “Toward a Post-capitalist Politics - Feminist Inspirations.” Due to being a regular home for group meetings, workshops, and film screenings, the shop also opened a small café that specializes in vegan, organic, and fair trade selections to accommodate their devoted patrons.

Rather than simply sticking with selling books, the staff works to ensure that their texts aren’t merely accessible but understood. With an almost-revolving door of authors, poets, and activists explaining their work, the atmosphere is welcoming and inclusive. Instead of just being a bookstore, Blue Stockings strives to reach beyond labels to create a center for a community whose ambitious goals only need a platform to stand on.

Blue Stockings is located at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington in Manhattan. 212.777.6028
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