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Two years on from BLM protests, business has declined at Black-owned bookstores

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Black-owned bookstores have seen traffic thinning out following the surge after George Floyd's murder and the uproar that came after in 2020.

Black-owned bookstores have seen traffic thinning out following the surge after George Floyd's murder and the uproar that came after in 2020. Getty Images

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The murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed in 2020 prompted a lot of Americans to do more business with Black-owned businesses. Black-owned bookstores, in particular, saw a wave of new customers interested in titles like Ibram X. Kendi’s “How To Be An Anti-Racist.”

Two years later, business has changed for some of those stores.

Turning Page Bookshop in Goose Creek, South Carolina is the only Black-owned brick and mortar bookstore in the state. VaLinda Miller knew the flood of attention her store was getting in 2020 wouldn’t last forever. 

“[In] 2022 the reality hit. I don’t even have half that surge that we had in 2020,” she said.

Many of the customers she picked up during the height of BLM protests have stuck around, but Miller said she can see the momentum fading. Rising gas and food prices are also chipping away at her customers’ book budgets. 

“I do understand that inflation is pretty bad,” she said. “That’s why I try to sell the books at a reasonable price.”

Sales of books about race and discrimination are down by 25% since the middle of last year, said Kristen McLean at the consumer research firm The NPD Group.  

“As time has gone on I think people have turned their attention to other things,” she said, adding that sales are still a lot higher than they were before the 2020 protests.

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