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Guide To Kulchur set to expand to larger digs in Gordon Square



Guide to Kulchur

Next week, Guide to Kulchur (GTK), the quirky bookstore and self-described "incubator for emerging and marginalized voices," will move from its tiny storefront at 1386 West 65th Street to roomier digs at 5900 Detroit Avenue.

"It's part of our 20 job initiative," says GTK founder RA Washington. "We're adding 20 jobs over the course of 18 months. We're going to target the youth first and set aside jobs for kids with juvenile records." He plans to start by hiring six people, with some future slots slated for recently released prison inmates.

The new 1,800-square foot space will feature more of what Gordon Square loves about GTK and then some, with a large stock of new books, a performance space, outside seating and even a coffee spot that will offer snacks made off site. And there's more to come.

"In the next 18 months, we'll take over the second floor and that will be an artist in residence space," says Washington, adding that the additional 1,800 square feet will also house a community/meeting area.

GTK's old home on 65th Street will transform into a regional warehouse for the Cleveland Books 2 Prisoners operation, which furnishes books to prisoners in Ohio, although Washington notes, "we get letters all the way from Texas, Indiana, Pennsylvania." He also supplies books to the homeless and invites community organizations and social justice advocates to take books free of charge for distribution from the warehouse. Regular janes and joes are free to peruse the stacks as well.

"People can also buy books at a pay-what-you-want rate," says Washington.

Amid all this development, Washington has recently launched GTK Press, which he also plans to expand at the new location in the 500-square-foot garage with more advanced equipment for printing and binding. Once established, he aims to bring in more youth employees to learn about publishing and the associated skills, from on-screen design to binding.

He estimates the total cost of the endeavor at $23,000. Although he is still $7,000 short of his goal, an Indiegogo campaign helped raise nearly $7,000. GTK's pitch performance at last month's Startup Scaleup event garnered an additional $5,000. Washington has also worked with Kent State to get funding via the Common Wealth Revolving Loan Fund, which helps sole proprietorships such as GTK to transform into cooperatives.

"The final step of the expansion is to transform Guide to Kulchur from a sole prop. to a worker owned co-op," says Washington.

The grand opening of the new space is slated for September 4th.

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit erinobrien.us for complete profile information.
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