Feminist icon Charis Books moving to Decatur

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Charis Books & More – at 42, the South's oldest indie feminist bookstore – has sold its longtime home in Little Five Points and is finalizing a move into a building owned by Agnes Scott College in Decatur.

Charis announced the move in a Dec. 15 email to supporters.

“I am writing to you now to invite you to celebrate and support the plans for our new Charis home: Charis at Agnes Scott College,” Elizabeth Anderson (photo left with Charis co-owner Sara Look), executive director of the non-profit Charis Circle, said in the email. 

Charis will move into a freestanding house across from the campus of Agnes Scott, the private women's college near downtown Decatur that owns Charis' new home. The new building on South Candler Street is larger than Charis' current home on Euclid Avenue.

“Even though we are sad about leaving Little Five Points we are so, so excited about being connected to Agnes Scott,” Anderson told Project Q Atlanta.

The larger location – and access to resources on the Agnes Scott campus – will make it easier to host events while the bookstore is open or to have simultaneous events happening.

“We’ll be redesigning the space to have the front part be for bigger events, and then have a back area for day time workshops and things like that. Which is one of the other visions of the feminist center that we talked about in 2009. We want to be able to do multiple things simultaneously and so for me that feels like a fulfillment of that vision,” Anderson said.

In 2011, Charis launched a $1 million capital campaign to build a feminist center. But when Anderson took over as executive director in 2012, she said it became clear that trying to create a community space similar to ones that already existed – including the Phillip Rush Center and Little Five Points Community Center – wasn't the best use of their funds, particularly as the economy continued to recover from the recession.

“I think that [Charis’] strengths have always been in our partnerships in the community and in actually not reinventing the wheel,” Anderson said.

The new location also offers more parking and will be closer to a MARTA station. 

“It addresses a lot of our major needs,” Anderson said.

Charis is still finalizing negotiations with Agnes Scott, Anderson added, and they hope to have detailed cost estimates and a timeline in January or early February. Charis launched a fundraising drive to help with opening the new space when it announced the move. DeKalb County property records valued Charis' Euclid Avenue home, owned by Look, at $401,000.
“[Agnes Scott is] working on making the exterior of the building sound for us, and nice for us, and we’re still finalizing the rest of the financial details,” Anderson said.

The most significant work needed is to make the building compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The changes to the building will also come with a new logo for Charis.

“We’ll be making a larger announcement with the new logo in January, most likely January or early February with Agnes Scott, so stay tuned,” Anderson said.

Once Charis settles into its new home, book-lovers won't need to fear fighting hordes of students trying to get textbooks during the start of each semester. While Charis will sell the school’s swag – including branded t-shirts, decals and mugs – the store won’t be selling textbooks for the school. 

Charis has been in its current home since 1994, when they moved from their previous location just across the street in Little Five Points.

In 2013, the Charis home – know for its distinctive purple color – was defaced by vandals who painted anti-LGBT graffiti on it. In 2010, the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce honored Charis founder Linda Bryant with its Lifetime Achievement Award.


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