Bluestockings is an independent bookshop, fair trade café and activist center in the Lower East Side run entirely by volunteers. As I was about to walk in, I felt a little nervous that my experience at Bluestockings would be like the hilarious “Women & Women First” sketches on IFC’s Portlandia, where patrons in a feminist bookstore quickly find themselves in awkward situations with overbearing staff members. It turns out Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, the stars of Portlandia, have visited Bluestockings. Thankfully, the volunteers at Bluestockings are welcoming and friendly and did not comment on my leather jacket and the industrial cow complex.
The shop carries a wide range of books about gender, LBGT issues, Marxist/anarchist/radical/liberal politics and economics, the environment and race issues. In addition, they have novels, graphic novels, craft books, pamphlets, magazines, pins, decorations and much more. It was nice to peruse some interesting books that wouldn’t always be found in major bookstores since much of the literature comes from alternative authors and publishers.
It’s an airy and open space, though seating is fairly limited. If you do sit at one of the few tables, be sure to have a cup o’ fair trade Joe. It has a more positive impact than sucking down a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts flavored with corn syrup and the tears of coffee farmers. In addition to beverages, Bluestockings also offers vegan and organic treats. Don’t try to pay with McDonald’s coupons.
Bluestockings hosts events almost every evening. These includes readings, lectures, music, film screenings and panels. Events are always free or have a suggested donation, though Bluestockings promises “you will not be turned away from an event at Bluestockings for lack of money.” Sounds like they stay true to their mission, and that’s good for us broke people. Even so, try to throw in a few bucks since it’s a volunteer collective.
Power to the people!
Bluestockings is located on 172 Allen St. in the Lower East Side and is open every day from 11 am to 11 pm. For more information and upcoming events, check out the Bluestockings website.