Book Store Raises Funds With Trivia Night
Subterranean Books held a fundraiser Saturday night at the Mad Art Gallery in St. Louis.
The Delmar Loop's bookstore continued its struggle to remain open for business Saturday night, when dozens of indie-conscious friends and customers came out for a night of fun.
Subterranean Books' first Trivia Night fundraiser kicked off at 7 p.m. at the Mad Art Gallery in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis. For the entry fee of $20 per person or $200 for a table of 10, book lovers and trivia buffs could play 10 rounds of trivia and enjoy glasses of wine and bottled brews from Schlafly and Budweiser.
The organizers invited participants to bring their own food, purchase mulligans and participate in the raffle and silent auction. In addition to the signed editions up for auction, a wealth of books were up for grabs as attendance prizes.
Management of the for-profit bookstore announced earlier this year that a combination of rising rents and declining sales might force Subterranean to close its doors for good. Owner Kelly von Plonski's plea for increased patronage has awoken many community members' eyes to the problems facing brick-and-mortar bookstores that are not part of a chain.
"I switched all of my book purchases from Amazon to Subterranean Books," Washington University Ph.D. student Maggie Stanley Majors said. "Books are the one thing I can spend money on locally. I don't have that much money."
"I appreciate what independent businesses do for the community," said Karen Klaus, a Central West End resident and employee of Operation Food Search in University City. "They bring vibrancy and are more interesting than a cookie cutter business ... I know how hard they're working, and they only have a few employees."
Things have looked up for the store since von Plonski sounded the alarm in early February.
"We're doing well," von Plonski said. "It's just a matter of whether we're going to sustain it."
The effort to take in enough revenue to pay rent, make payroll and maintain a respectable collection of books is an ongoing battle, she said.
While Subterranean employees tabulated team scores behind the scenes and von Plonski chatted up participants, volunteers helped keep the event running smoothly. Volunteers included Thomas Callahan, a Tivoli Theatre employee and Sub Books regular and Jenni George, a former employee whose husband, Alex Weir, is on staff.
"They know my name when I walk in," Callahan said. "They know what books I like. I don't get that anywhere else."
"I believe in the store," George said. "I want the store to succeed."
The staffs of two Greater St. Louis area indie bookstores also showed up in support of Subterranean Books.
Pudd'nhead Books of Webster Groves and Main Street Books of St. Charles each had a table. All three retailers are part of the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance, a coalition gearing up for the Bookstore Cruise special event on May 7.