Without community support, we are facing the devastating possibility of immediate closure.
We’re Erin, Drew, Jake, and Jazmine, the co-owners of 27th Letter Books in Southwest Detroit. We believe stories and storytelling provide us deeper connection and meaning as humans. Founded on this principle, 27th Letter Books is a home for narrative in all forms.
Our curation centers on diverse perspectives because we ourselves sit at intersections of experiences outside the typical literary landscape. Collectively we are worker-owned, young, queer, disabled, neurodivergent, Black, Filipino-American, women, and veterans. We know deeply how important it is for our survival to engage with stories that both reaffirm and expand our lives.
Since starting as a pop-up in June of 2019, our business has overcome numerous challenges. We opened our brick-and-mortar space during the middle of a global pandemic, recovered from flooding and extended power outages in the summer of 2021, and re-opened after a vehicle crashed into our building on Friday the 13th. We knew running a small business was tough, but we never anticipated such a series of unfortunate events (book pun intended).
Through it all, centering our creative community has kept us going. Our biggest dream is to keep serving you–the readers, writers, storytellers, musicians, and artists of our neighborhood and beyond–with excellent book recommendations and a community gathering space. But, to keep this dream alive we need your help…
This year our store fell victim to an aggressive cyber scam leaving us to directly cover over $35,000 in losses. Law enforcement has expressed our chances of recovering any funds via a criminal investigation are extremely low given the nature of the crime. Our business insurance will not cover any of this extraordinary loss. Since uncovering this fraud, we have re-evaluated and improved our team procedures and training to defend against further fraud attempts, but our situation is precarious.
Here are some ways you can help that will make a timely and critical impact:
A financial donation in ANY amount through our GoFundMe campaign
Amplifying and sharing our story
Choosing to shop with us in-store or online
Your financial donation will directly support:
Rent – keeping our physical space available for browsing/book-buying and continuing to offer (primarily free) community programs such as children’s storytime, author events, poetry readings, mini concerts, wellness gatherings, craft workshops, open mics, and more!
Inventory – sustaining our book supply for regular sales turnover and timely fulfillment of special orders. (The fraud led to a hold on a key account, causing confusion and delays with a group of our customer special orders. To resolve these issues as quickly as possible we redirected funds from routine inventory purchases.)
Operations – all the small stuff that keeps us running like utilities, point-of-sale software, credit card processing fees, and dog treats for Toffee (just kidding on that last one, Toffee told us she would accept her salary in the form of pets and ear scritches for a while).
In the spirit of transparency, our current breakeven costs sit around $13,200 per month with our largest operating expenses being rent/utilities and inventory turnover. These numbers also include very minimal payroll, the equivalent of 1 full-time employee receiving a small, but livable salary. The majority of our team is not taking a salary from the business and two of our team members work full-time jobs outside of the business to help financially support our families. We’d love to be able to pay ourselves fairly for our labor, but our uphill challenges since opening, plus the complex systems we navigate as a for-profit company that prioritizes social impact–treating books and art as a necessity and not a luxury–shape our current reality.
Please consider joining us by donating to our campaign so we can provide services that nourish our community in Detroit and beyond.
Erin, Drew, Jake, and Jazmine