Online effort saves neighborhood book store

January 3, 2013 2:38:08 PM PST
A now vacant storefront in Washington Heights had a short life as a community bookstore known as Word Up.

"The neighborhood has seemed to say, 'Yes, we want this and we want Word Up to be the ones bringing it," book store founder Vanessa Liu said.

Run by a few dedicated volunteers, it was meant to be a temporary service to the community. When building management changed last year, Word Up lost its short term lease.

An online fund raising drive provided a chance for Word Up to tell its story and demonstrate its support in the neighborhood.

People who live in this community have described it as being starved for bookstores. There's not another one in sight here on northern Broadway, and the one they call Word Up was more than just a bookstore.

Sandra Garcia-Betancourt heads the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, which provides resources for Word Up.

"It's a place for workshops, for performing, for learning, for meeting other artists, you know, for bringing community together," she said.

"We have readings, we have story time, we had the People's Theater Project put on shows there." Volunteer Robin Glasser said.

Word Up has also been a source of neighborhood pride.

"I decided to check it out because it was a bookstore and it was exciting that there was a bookstore in my neighborhood, and I stopped in and was amazed that it was real," Mabel Colon said.

They raised more money for the relocation than anyone expected.

"When you take us back to our first month of existence, we had no idea what the place was going to turn into," volunteer Sandy Jimenez said.

Learn more about Word Up at

Get Eyewitness News Delivered

Facebook | Twitter | Newsletters | Text Alerts