In December 2021, Lucy Yu fulfilled a life-long dream when she opened up Yu & Me Books, the first female-owned Asian American bookstore. Located in Manhattan’s Chinatown, she and her staff worked hard to create a space that welcomes everyone, something she felt was especially needed with the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes seen from the COVID pandemic. The store was home to a number of book launches, open mics, and other events. But any and all plans for 2023 were put on an indefinite pause on July 4.
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A fire began in a residential unit just above the store, and the damage quickly spread. By the time first responders arrived, they had already lost the majority of their inventory and equipment needed to run the store. In fact, the smoke and fire damage is so significant, they were told they’ll need a gut renovation. Based on estimations, this will take a year to complete.
But Lucy isn’t known to give up when life gets tough. She and the rest of the Yu & Me Books staff haven’t hesitated to put together plans on what to do next to keep the store alive, starting with a GoFundMe page. With the money, they hope to cover staff wages, replace equipment, renovate the store, and pay other fees and expenses as needed.
In a mere five days, their goal of $150,000 has been massively surpassed. As of today, July 11, they’ve raised over $333,000! Some well-known donors include Simu Liu, the star of “Shang-Chi,” and authors Celeste Ng and Min Jin Lee.
“We cannot wait to welcome everyone back when we’re able to, and are grateful for everyone who has reached out to check in and ask how to support,” the GoFundMe page reads. “… In the meantime, if you see Lucy, give her a hug and ask if she’s eaten yet.”
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