Starting with just a tablet and select merchandise, Hakim Hopkins founded Black and Nobel 15 years ago.
Since its inception, Hopkins has not only cultivated the bookstore’s brand by servicing the community from its base at Broad and Erie streets, but the store provides a haven for a younger crowd whose interests include books, the arts and entertainment.
The store has even provided an array of services including shipping books to prisons, hosting community-oriented lectures, presenting open mic showcases for independent artists and delivering fresh water to residents of Flint, Mich.
Now Black and Nobel is seeking $250,000 to keep the doors open.
“I was actually going to close the store,” Hopkins told The Philadelphia Tribune during a phone interview Monday. “We couldn’t handle the bills or rent anymore. Books have not kept me in business since 2011-12 because of the internet.
“The internet used to be a secondary source, but now the internet has become the primary source,” he added.
“You start to fall behind and realize that you use to do all these different numbers and now you’re not able to keep up with anything,” Hopkins said. “Lately, I haven’t been my normal self, and I just threw my hands in the air; I was done with the store. When I started telling people what my future plans were for the store, a lot of people were upset.
“The volunteers who are at my store and some younger people encouraged me to keep the store open,” he said. “I was encouraged by that. We started campaigning outside of the store a few days ago. We had a concert outside to get the word out about what we were doing. From there, our host for open mic Dee Jay the Singer along with the younger crowd that comes into my store, encouraged me to start a GoFundMe page.”
“Save Black Nobel” is the name of the campaign on the GoFundMe page. In four days, it has already raised $4,020. The goal is $250,000.
Hopkins says he has been getting nothing but positive feedback since he started his campaign.
“Once I said I was closing the store, it really became a red alert for a lot of people,” Hopkins said. “Since then, people have been calling me from all over showing their love and support for Black and Nobel. The first call I got was from someone in Senegal, West Africa who asking me how can they go on the GoFundMe page to show their support for the store. The support has just been unreal.”
Moving forward, Black and Nobel plans to adjust its strategy in order to continue to serve the community. The store wants to empower younger team members to use their talents to increase Black and Nobel’s internet presence. The store also want to acquire a tour bus to facilitate face-to-face community outreach in neighborhoods and schools across the nation.
“Through this campaign, I realized that Black and Nobel is bigger than me and it’s more than just a bookstore,” Hopkins said. “It’s a sanctuary, institution, and a home for some people. What we want to do is eventually raise enough money to buy our own building or our tour bus for things that we do. We’ll be able to that through the GoFundMe campaign. We want to show our supporters what we can do when we have some help. We’re going to keep moving forward, and get bigger and better.”
For more information on Black and Nobel’s GoFundMe campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/saveblackandnobel.