The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Womencrafts, Iconic Provincetown Business, Seeking Funds to Survive

Womencrafts

Womencrafts, a Provincetown, Mass., a queer-owned, women- and LGBTQ-focused shop that has become an institution in the community, is in danger of closing and has turned to crowdsourcing to survive.

The store’s owner, Michelle Axelson, is seeking to raise $200,000 for a down payment on the building that houses the business, the Cape Cod Times reports. Kathryn Livelli, a former Womencrafts owner who owns the building, wants to sell the property. If Womencrafts doesn’t come up with the down payment by August 1, Livelli plans to put it on the market with an asking price of $700,000.

The store sells books, art, music, jewelry, and other items created by women. It has been in business for 46 years.

“Womencrafts is a landmark in Provincetown,” local gallery owner Carolyn Kramer told the Cape Cod Times. “It's as much a landmark as the history of the Pilgrims landing here. It’s the first queer, feminist, lesbian-owned bookstore. It’s been part of the soul and fabric of Provincetown.” Paintings by Kramer’s wife, Jo Hay, are displayed at Womencrafts.

Axelson has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the down payment. As of Monday, it has raised $162,000 of the $200,000 goal.

“As hard as it is to ask for help, it gave me an outreach to a global community,” she told the paper. Other business owners in the LGBTQ+ mecca have turned to crowdsourcing for help, as Provincetown has become an expensive place to live and do business.

Axelson has owned Womencrafts since 2015. At the time, she posted on social media, “I bought an iconic institution, a lesbian landmark, a feminist fixture, the bookstore of my dreams.”

“Inside Womencrafts’ four welcoming walls, thousands of people have publicly shared who they are for the first time — including a woman in her 60s who came out as a lesbian earlier this summer,” the GoFundMe page states. “It is where couples can embrace and kiss in a moment of shared intimacy … where parents of a trans kid can find affirmation, books, and resources … and where we can see our lives reflected and celebrated in art, books, music, and more.”

“From state laws targeting trans kids and their families to the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and threatens other fundamental human rights, it’s clear that Womencrafts’ presence and mission are as vital as ever,” the page notes.

“To keep the dream alive, Womencrafts needs housing security,” it continues. If the building is sold to someone else, “given Provincetown’s skyrocketing rents and low inventory, it’s not certain that Womencrafts will be able to remain in business,” it says.

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