Wooden Shoe walks down a different path

The colorful store located in Center City is a forum for different kinds of opinions and voices.

The colorful store located in Center City is a forum for different kinds of opinions and voices.

COLIN KERRIGAN TTN Wooden Shoe Books offers homemade literature from area locals in an effort to allow access to information.

Many bookstores offer the public a means to find entertainment, a place to relax, socialize with people and find information. Wooden Shoe Books offers this and more – with a bit of a twist. 

Wooden Shoe Bookstore, located at 508 South Fifth St., is a non-profit, volunteer-run bookstore that has a strong left-wing theme to it. Though it functions much like a standard bookstore, it sticks by one particular tenant.

“Our main focus is to allow access to information,” volunteer Todd O’Leary said.  

The store has long been a place for those who have strong left-wing ideologies ever since it first opened at 20th and Sansom streets in 1976, but the history of Wooden Shoe is a long one.

The anarchist collective has been at its current location for 12 years but is now planning to move once again Oct. 10.

On Saturday Oct. 3, between 12 and 7 p.m., the store will host “Moving Forward,” an event to celebrate moving the store to its new location at 704 South St. The event will involve multiple workshops at both the new and old locations. Some of these workshops will include topics like saving the libraries and fighting AIDS.  

The store is currently continuing its fund raising by selling raffle tickets at one for $2, three for $5 or 20 for $10. Volunteers are also holding garage and sidewalk sales to help draw in people who might not usually come to the store.

Wooden Shoe has also been earning money for its big move the old fashioned way, through donations. Volunteers had hoped to earn as much as $7,000, but funds are still coming up short.

The store, which is still in need of serious funding, offers a multitude of left-wing books on subjects and issues ranging from anarchism, racism and feminism to history, politics, art and music.

In the middle of Wooden Shoe’s current location is a table of records, CDs and tapes from underground artists of varying genres, such as rock, folk, hip-hop and spoken word.

Local talents can have their albums sold through consignment, which essentially places the creator’s material into the store’s hands. And consignees can expect to gain 70 percent of what Wooden Shoe earned from their product, which is better than some other places, said James Generic, a volunteer since 2000.

Another more notable product Wooden Shoe sells is the pamphlet or booklet-like reading material called a zine. Zines are self-published works, and authors cover an array of topics. These works can also be consigned like the self-made music items.

The Wooden Shoe holds about two events a week. Typically, events include a speaker who comes in, and the store has also recently started hosting Saturday movie nights. 

Stephen Kimmerly can be reached at stephen.kimmerly@temple.edu. 

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