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Sunday, January 10, 2021

How a downtown Phoenix bookstore owner kept his business alive amid pandemic | Coronavirus - Phoenix Business Journal

Outside a tiny bookstore in downtown Phoenix, a tall man greeted guests at the door on a recent Thursday night and checked for their tickets before letting them in by Ethan Kispert – Contributing writer at Arizona PBS.

Aaron Hopkins-Johnson hosts a poetry slam at his downtown Phoenix bookstore, Lawn Gnome Publishing, every Thursday to draw potential customers into the store.

Inside, there were five rows of chairs evenly spaced apart, five to six foldable chairs per row. The smell of cologne and cigarette smoke hung around in the air as people chattered away with one another, waiting for the weekly poetry slam to start.

Out front, there was a small wooden stage where Aaron Hopkins-Johnson, the owner of the bookstore, was busy shuffling papers around while giving the occasional nervous glance to see if everyone who had signed up was already there. 

Hopkins-Johnson has been conducting poetry slams — since he graduated from Northern Arizona University 20 years ago — in the two bookstores he has owned, businesses that, he said, were inspired by his world travels. This one in downtown Phoenix, called Lawn Gnome Publishing, is his most recent venture and the one he has had to fight the hardest to keep alive...

Lawn Gnome Publishing has been open continuously since August. For Hopkins-Johnson, everyday feels like a fight as he adapts and adjusts to stay compliant with local health codes while continuing to foster a warm and welcoming environment for his customers through events such as his poetry slams.

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Source: Phoenix Business Journal