An indie bookstore 'saved by a tweet'

Broadway Books in Portland, Oregon, saved from shutting its doors when the owner's son tweeted a plea to help save it, is now celebrating its 20th birthday.

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    Broadway Books, an independent bookstore in Portland, Ore., had the best holiday season in its history after the owner's son tweeted that he would buy a burrito for anyone who spent more than $50 at his mother's store.
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Broadway Books in Portland, Oregon, turns 20 this month, no small feat for an indie bookstore. We don’t usually feature individual booksellers here, but we were so touched by this tale of a local, independently-owned bookstore beating the odds that we had to share it here.

You may remember Broadway Books as the bookstore that was saved by a tweet in 2008. When Broadway was approaching the holiday season back in 2008, the economy crashed and sales slowed so dramatically that owner Roberta Dyer wasn’t sure her bookstore would make it through the winter.

“When we were approaching our seventeenth Christmas season, the economy tanked and we were really afraid,” said Dyer in a video about her bookstore.

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When Dyer’s son Aaron Durand learned that his mom’s bookstore might not make it, he decided to do something about it. Durand wrote a blog post in a last-ditch effort to save his mom’s bookstore. The post read, “I have a credit card that has $1000 left of credit on it and I want to spend that money helping people get to my mom’s store.” He promised to buy a burrito for anyone who spent more than $50 at Broadway Books.

Once Durand tweeted the plea on Twitter, the story went viral and Durand’s blog, which normally got three or four hits a day, got hundreds of visits. The community rallied around Broadway – they were literally running out of books, remembers Dyer – and business boomed.

“It just exploded and we had the best holiday season we’d ever had,” said Dyer. “That was…years ago and every single year since we’ve done better and I think it all started with that one little tweet.”

Here’s to Broadway Books and 20 years of community support in Portland – and here’s to hoping many more like it can continue to survive and thrive.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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