Nationwide lockdowns have been devastating for businesses. One of San Francisco’s most famous institutions almost fell victim to the financial woes of lockdown life — until the community came to the rescue.
City Lights, founded in 1953 and a symbol of the Beat Generation, has been a cultural institution for San Francisco’s bohemian community for decades. It was the country’s first bookstore to exclusively sell paperbacks. On March 16, City Lights closed when Governor Newsom directed the shuttering of nonessential businesses, and was in danger of going out of business for good. A GoFundMe campaign, however, has given new life to the iconic San Francisco bookstore. After one day of fundraising, the page raised $365,000, and has now exceeded $450,000 in just three days.
“The fiscal support we’re receiving here will help stabilize us for the next couple of months,” said City Lights CEO Elaine Katzenburger, “and that will enable us to begin planning for the future. That’s critical. But beyond that, the outpouring of love we’re receiving is invaluable. I’ll tell you honestly that we’re all feeling a little giddy from it right now, and though there is a TON of work to do, this puts a strong wind at our backs.”
The GoFundMe page remains active for those who wish to help City Lights even further.
A version of this article was previously published on April 10, 2020, and was updated on April 13, 2020, with more information.