The Women & Women First bookstore featured on Portlandia is still in business. But the real-life feminist bookstore – called In Other Words – in which those sketches starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are filmed may be closing up shop if its owners don’t get a much-needed monetary injection. Located in Northeast Portland, In Other Words is not just a bookstore but is also a feminist community center— and as such it operates as a non-profit. It’s currently losing about $600 a month according to its board members, who met yesterday to discuss the organization’s bleak future. The shop may close on Feb. 28 when it’s current lease runs out.
“Portlandia has given the space the illusion that we’re rolling in money,” board member Jane Knechtel said at the meeting on Sunday. “We are not rolling in money from Portlandia, and we never have been.” IFC does pay to film at In Other Words, but since that’s only about two or three times annually, it doesn’t amount to much. And while the bookstore used to make half of its revenue on feminist textbooks for women’s studies classes, those numbers have plummeted in the last few years.
In Other Words was founded in 1993 and is only one of nine feminist bookstores currently operating in the United States, according to Bitch magazine. Below, check out a behind-the-scenes look at In Other Words, which appeared as a Web-only exclusive on Portlandia’s official site. It features comedian Kumail Nanjiani and the aforementioned Jane Knetchel as well as a volunteer at the store named Kendra who says there are actually 30 feminist bookstores (not nine) in the country. Below that video is the feminist bookstore in action on Portlandia.