People say that book stores are no longer necessary due to eBooks, E-readers, etc. Content a lot of it anyway can be found online. I beg to differ. I was told the same thing when I started blogging. I was told it was a completely saturated field and people only wanted to influence aka be online and take pictures. Thank goodness Jeannine didn’t listen the naysayers.
Bookstores are my number one place that I personally go to get centered, get some quiet, have peace, sometimes create, and to unwind from stress. Its always been my number one go to growing up. If I said I needed to go to my retreat a lot of close family and friends knew I was headed to the bookstore where I would spend literally hours just escaping and having the time of my life. I have always been an avid reader. I was in my car and I saw a post about Harriett’s Bookstore. I was shocked. There was a new and even Black woman owned bookstore in Philadelphia and I wasn’t aware of it? The sheer excitement came over me. I immediately contacted Jeannine so I could come and interview her and check out the space.
My firsts impression was that it’s a beautifully aesthetic. The vibe is absolutely perfect. Jeannine greeted me with a smile, incense burning, quiet, and breathtaking. I felt at home, loved, and honored just to walk into the store. When I tell you how much peace is felt I can’t describe it. Its like being at a family member’s home who you trust who also makes the best comfort food. What I love about it is you are surrounded by books and artist who are women. Women who may or may not have a large following but are dedicated to their craft. Jeannine wanted to give space to the underdogs. One of the best ways you can support women is by giving them space to be the artist that they are. Support by buying their pieces. Support by rallying behind them and that is exactly what Jeannine is doing.
I asked her why the name Harriett. She let me know that she spells the traditional Harriet with two T’s. It is to honor Harriet Tubman. As a child she felt drawn to her spirit. When she was younger her and her sisters did a resurrection of the ancestors as a piece and she choose Harriet Tubman. Jeannine is an educator as well as a writer and a creative. She wrote a piece from the perspective of what Harriet Tubman would be saying if she was whispering in her ear, “It’s me they follow, it’s me they follow.” This piece also was taken, and an artist made it into an interpretive dance almost 10 years ago. Harriet Tubman took Courage in stepping out and helping to free slaves and Jeannine is using the same courage to step out and do what others said she couldn’t, open a book store and make it a community hub.
She recalls writing an email to her sister complaining about this idea of a book store and her sister resent her an email that she had sent with the same complaint. It was like a gut punch to the chest. Here she was in the same space with this burning idea and she had not brought it to fruition. Ideas never die. They simply wait for you to breath life into them. Jeannine knew what she had to do but how could she remain fiscally responsible being a single mother and leap into her dream? “Once you commit to a dream nothing can stop it” and that’s what Jeannine did.
Local artist Ivy the Vine
We see the things that Harriet Tubman did. Did that mean she did them without fear? No. Courage is walking in the face of fear knowing that you are prepared to do whatever it takes to see something through. Interesting enough Jeannine mother is blind. She grew up in times where her mother would either have limited sight or no sight at all yet in still, she traveled the world and took care of others. Do you not see the strength that Jeannine comes from? Oh, and if that isn’t enough to just channel the spirit of Harriet, Jeannine’s mother parent name was Courage. It all ties into who she is and what she is becoming. That sent chills up my spine and let me tell you why. When you walk in your purpose, things will align just like that even if a hurdle or two comes up. The ancestors are walking with Jeannine. There is no bigger figure in history that exudes courage like Harriet. She could have saved a few and no one would have judged her, but she took this courage knowing it could cost her life and she trekked on.
One of the most important things that has carried Jeannine is discernment. She has it and it helped her along the way. Its been principle when people even in love told her that this was a silly idea. Silly in theory to go against practicability vs responsibility. To start something that others deemed would be a lost in profit along the way, yet she sold out of books just from opening her doors and hasn’t even had the Grand Opening which is scheduled for February 1st. Her goals are to not only have a book store but to be a community hub. She has made sure she puts a dog treat bowl out. Makes sure its always warm and welcoming. She’s even working with Swarthmore to have teachers come and set up a children’s room so that young kids can experience an open the conversation about activism and community involvement early on.
Crossing the list
Jeannine was super nervous about crossing this milestone that was year in the making. From taking this idea from inception, complaint and sitting it down to picking it back up and turning it into what is Harrietts.
If we could learn something from Jeannine is that not all ideas are safe. Stepping out in courage like Harriet Tubman doesevoke the love of courage-while supporting women activist and authors as they continue their own journey of success is going to keep Harrietts here for quite some time.
Harrietts is open daily from 10-6:00pm. How we can support is come in and purchase a new book from amazing authors. Support by taking space here and coming in droves to bring others in.
Thank you Jeannine and I appreciate your extensive collection-I also made my own purchase Toni Morrison’s Home! I plan to finish this as I travel at the end of the month.
Feel free to also come and be at the Grand Opening on February 1, 2020!
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