Ottawa’s Mother Tongue Books will close its doors for good next month. While the shuttering of any bookshop is sad news indeed, owners Evelyn Huer, Laura Rayner, and Julie Gagnon are looking at the closure as an opportunity to celebrate what they’ve achieved in 18 years as an independent bookstore and community hub.
“One way or another, it’s going to close,” Huer says. “All we can control is how we feel about it … [so] let’s send this thing off in celebration.”
The feminist community bookstore opened in 1994 and since then textbook sales have been what “buttered the bread,” Huer says. While professors placed the usual textbook orders for the 2012 academic year, sell-through with students was at an all-time low last fall, causing significant cash flow issues. The trio of women decided that closing the shop would be preferable to taking on any more debt. (They’re re-directing coursebook orders to nearby Octopus Books.)
Starting with in-store appearances by Elizabeth Hay and singer-songwriter Jill Zmud on June 22, Mother Tongue will host a commemorative event every Friday night until its last day of business on July 21. Huer says the series is meant to “close the store with some grace” and “honour our customers,” adding that community events are the “things that sustain us in bad times.”
In the meantime, the owners have posted to their blog five ways community members may support the shop through its transition, including making a cash donation towards the store’s closing costs, contacting the store with a note of encouragement, and — no surprise — buying their remaining books.