When Ed Hermance, the owner America's oldest gay bookstore, announced earlier this year that after 35 years he was getting out of the book business, he said he would not leave Giovanni's Room or the building in Philadelphia to just anybody.
After decades of providing a safe haven both intellectually and physically for the gay community at 13th and Pine streets, he did not want it all to disappear just because of the demise of bricks-and-mortar bookstores.
Earlier this week, he signed a two-year lease with Philly AIDS Thrift, a charity shop that resells donated material to benefit AIDS and HIV programs. A few years ago, it successfully expanded into a double-wide storefront at Fifth and Bainbridge streets, becoming something of a retail and cultural phenomenon itself. Its owners say it raises about $20,000 a month.