WOODEN SHOE BOOK & RECORD STORE
AND ANARCHIST INFOSHOP
508 S. 5th St.Philadelphia PA, 19147
Even before I stepped foot into this little activist oasis in the heart of South Street in Philly, my A.D.D frantically kicked in. Of all the bookstores I've ever visited, this to me was the Holy Grail. If I would have stood quietly enough, I think I would have heard the anarchist angels singing...I'd hear myself asking, Che*, is that you?
So for those of you who maybe heard of the Wooden Shoe but didn't know what it was, no, they don't sell wooden clogs. This isn't Holland. The name derives from "French peasants back in the day who often resisted early industrial capitalism by tossing their wooden shoes (they couldn't afford leather) into the gears of the machine, in order to get a break after extremely long hours".**
Now this ain't no Barnes & Noble. If you're looking for Danielle Steele or Anne Rice, this is definitely not the place. This space has specialized in exposing the community to numerous opportunities to discover and gain knowledge in the world around them and the issues that affect us all. You name it. They got it. It's a one-size-fits-all info shop, meaning for every type of activist, such as, women's rights, gay rights, vegetarians, pro-hemp, etc, etc,etc. Of course, mainly anything and everything that would be considered in society to be "left-wing", "radical", and/or "liberal". Wooden Shoe is an extraordinary introduction into how to get INVOLVED.
Wooden Shoe is what is known as a "collective". They are volunteer run and owned. Doing that for almost thirty years is no simple task, and an amazing feat. Basically what that means is no mainstream management exists. People who decide to participate in this type of non-structure, apart from doing what they need to do for their own livelihoods, choose to donate their time and energies to a cause they believe in, and are motivated purely on their own belief system that a place such as Wooden Shoe needs to exist. I have experienced, and have been involved with collectives before. Like anywhere or anything else, a few hardcore persons end up taking responsibility for alot of the duties. Such people as James G., seemingly timid and very friendly, is currently the apparent unofficial spokesperson for Wooden Shoe. James explained to me how his journey began at Wooden Shoe back in 2000. His background and education in American History and the justice system led him to the little anarchist book store. He discussed how it helped him find "clarity" and how "The Shoe" (as the locals call it) is a good "starting point" for people wanting to get involved in whatever issues are important to them.
The Wooden Shoe has a wonderful array of records as well as books. Including records on poetry, the "spoken word" section. Also, what seems to be an indefinite number of buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts, every accessory a good little Anarchist needs. "The Shoe" is also frequently host to many community events such as "The People's Movie Night", speakers, and a precious resource to other surrounding areas of activist interest. Any potential, (or even veteran) activist who lives anywhere near The Wooden Shoe and is interested is learning on how to get involved or expand your political views, I absolutely encourage a visit to this little gem hidden in the great city of Philadelphia.
*"Che" Guevara: Revolutionary, (among many other things).
**Quote taken from the Wooden Shoe website under "HISTORY".
If you or anyone you know is an independent book store owner, who is GLBTQ themed or gay friendly, and would like to be featured on Lesbiatopia, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org