Local bookstore fights to keep lease from big business

Tsunami Books holds pledge drive through March

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Photo curtesy of Tsunamibooks.org
Tsunami Books is located on Willamette St. between 25th and 26th Ave. The not-for-profit bookstore is reaching out to the community during the month of March with a pledge drive to save the store from encroaching big business.

Tsunami Books Inc., local new and used bookstore and venue for a variety of community events, is in risk of closing. An interested party, an unnamed corporation, with a large amount of money is willing to outbid Scott Landfield, owner of Tsunami, for the lot’s lease.

In hopes of keeping the location, and ultimately the business, Tsunami is holding a fundraising drive through the end of March in order to raise as much as possible. The landlord has given Landfield until March 30 to present a proposal for the future of the lease.

To raise money and demonstrate the people’s interest in keeping Tsunami as a part of the community, Landfield is asking for pledges. Pledges can be filled out in-store or on Tsunami’s website, tsunamibooks.org. The goal is to accumulate 1,000 pledges by the end of the month. Landfield asks the community to pledge support in whatever way they can, meaning that the pledges do not have to be monetary in nature.The largest monetary pledge so far has been $8,000.

Tsunami is seen not just as a bookstore, but as a community center of sorts. They have hosted about 4,000 entertainment and other events over the past 22 years, including musical events, lectures, community meetings, poetry slams and theater productions.

When Arun Gandhi, nonviolence activist and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, visited Eugene to speak at Lane, he also gave a talk at Tsunami on Feb. 15 to help the fundraiser gain traction. The talk was free, and the store raised around $500 that day from donations.

On Feb. 26, Tsunami hosted Minority Voices Theatre for a reading of the play “Having Our Say” by Emily Mann. The play is a true story about the Delany sisters, colored women who were born shortly after Reconstitution and lived through the Civil Rights Movement.

The production was directed by Stan Coleman, public speaking teacher at Lane and co-founder of MVT. As an event scheduled as a part of Black History Month and keeping true to not-for-profit mission, Tsunami did not use any of the funds generated at the event as part of the store’s fundraiser. The proceeds went directly to Minority Voices Theatre and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Approximately $1,300 was raised, around $800 of which went to the NAACP.

“It’s the perfect venue for this little informal kind of readings. It’s not a big stage production, but they are able to bring things here that they wouldn’t bring to a big stage,” community member Lynn Elliott said.

For others, the attachment to the bookstore is out of sentiment.

“[My children] have grown up around the bookstore. It’s been a big part of the community,” bookstore patron Tamara Richardson said.

It’s not just the customers hoping that this local store can stick around. The performers also hold Tsunami dear.

“We want to support people who have places like this. We want to support our community, because whatever we put into our community comes right back to us,” Coleman said. “So, it’s so important to hold onto this store, and this store in particular, because Scott reaches out to all kinds of groups to come in and do presentations like this. We wouldn’t have venues a lot of the time to do some of the presentations that we want to do if it were not for Scott and this Tsunami bookstore.”