Harriett’s Bookshop at 258 E. Girard Ave. has quickly become a staple of the neighborhood – and the city. Opened by educator/business owner/activist Jeannine Cook literally weeks before the pandemic shut down the world in early 2020, this mission-driven shop – named after renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman – rode those ups and downs to become a crucial voice in the wake of the turbulent summer of 2020, helping to spread knowledge through books. Then in the spring of 2021, a GoFundMe was set up by the business to raise capital to buy a new home, generating a whopping $75,000 in just three days. And thanks to a recent zoning permit, we are very pleased to report that the shop will seemingly be sticking around, and just down the street from its current home.
The exciting news is that this permit for 532 E. Girard Ave. lists Harriett’s Bookshop as the owner of the property, and there are big plans for the building. Harriet’s is planning an addition on the back of the building, expanding a section that currently only rises one story. While there are no details yet for the design, it is fantastic envisioning the shop relocating to a more permanent home on this Fishtown corridor.
The permit does state that the dormer and sloped roof frontage will be no more (in order to create space for a new roof deck), but we are OK with a little bit of demo if it means a whole bunch of culture will remain. While this is still a bit speculative, knowing that the neighborhood – and the city – should have a space for learning, reflection, and reading (duh) for the long haul is exactly the sort of story we love to see. In the meantime, perhaps we’ll make a quick jaunt to our sister city to see the newest addition to the growing bookstore family, where Josephine’s Bookshop is set join the party and open up shop in Paris. We’ll be sure to bring you back something French.
UPDATE (6/19/2023): It was pointed out that this property was just recently sold, so plans are now very much speculative.