The Next Chapter

Unaffordable rent forces influential Austin bookstore to begin new chapter

Rising rent forces influential Austin bookstore to begin new chapter

Austin Photo Set: News_gabino_resistencia bookstore_may 2012_2
Resistencia Bookstore is looking for a new home. Photo by Gabino Iglesias

An icon of Austin's literary scene is facing a new chapter after being priced out of its current location.

Red Salmon Arts, which runs East Austin-based Resistencia Bookstore, announced earlier this month that rent for the bookshop recently doubled, eventually leading to a notice to vacate the property before August.

The store, located at 4926 E. Cesar Chavez St. Unit C1, has been a platform for writers of Chicanx, Latinx, and Native American literature since 1981. Resistencia is also known for spotlighting feminist, black, and LGBTQ+ literature, while using the physical space as a meeting place for cultural and literary events in the community. 

And now they're looking for the community's help.

"We need community support now more than ever," the nonprofit said in a July 10 Facebook post. "Our rent was recently doubled from one lease to the next, without any warning, and the space is no longer an affordable option for us. While we are in transition, we are asking for financial support of any amount."

In order to get that to the location, Resistencia leaders are now asking for donations to help cover moving expenses, rent or purchase of the new location, and pay for part-time staff. As of this story, the group so far has raised $4,435, or 15 percent, of its $30,000 goal.

Bookstore and Red Salmon Arts founder Raúl R. Salinas, who died in 2008, was an acclaimed poet, social justice activist, and former prisoner.

Salinas, who was born in San Antonio but grew up in East Austin, was forever changed by his visit to El Centro de la Raza, a large advocacy hub for the Latinx community in Seattle.

That visit inspired the first storefront in East Austin. Though it moved around, including a lengthy stint on South First Street before moving to Cesar Chavez in 2014, Resistencia continued to feature underrepresented voices on its shelves. 

"When Salinas came to Austin, he found himself surround by important movements," executive director Lilia Rosas told CultureMap in 2012. "There was the student movement, the gay movement, the women's rights movement, and many others. There was also a strong spirit of do-it-yourself at the time, and that's in part responsible for the creation of this space. The idea behind Resistencia is, if you don't see yourself reflected in the bookshelves, make it happen, build a space for what you think should be available."

Nearing its deadline to move, Red Salmon Arts provided an update on its next location in a July 29 Facebook post. "We are honing in on our new place," the organization said. "We'll have more details when the time comes."