If it weren’t for DARE Books I would never have known that a black man invented the bottle. The store opposite BAM is closing after 20 years of selling books devoted to African Americans, and the store window alone is an education (for some of us anyway). The owner, Desmond A. Reid (DARE, get it?) blames the loss of a city text book contract as the reason for the move (he also has a publishing business), but it’s hard to deny the appeal of the pull factors: selling the building he’s owned for 20 years to set up shop in Orlando, Florida. “I’m sick of the snow and the ice,” Desmond told us on a visit to the store on a blustery winter day.
He’s seen his share of neighborhood changes. Back when he opened, there were prostitutes on the sidewalk and a “welfare hotel” on the corner. There was no Atlantic Center, no Metrotech Center and, he says, he bought the whole building so he’d never get forced out by a greedy landlord.
The neighborhood, and the city, will feel the store’s loss.
(PS the non-refillable bottle was invented in 1899 by Robert Randolph Reynolds)