Ann Arbor's Common Language Bookstore to close

Kerrytown LGBT bookstore was a community hub for nearly three decades

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

The store's dog Duke (Photo: Destination Ann Arbor)

ANN ARBOR - On Saturday evening, the owners of Common Language Bookstore, Keith Orr and Martin Contreras, announced on the store's Facebook page their plans to close by the end of the year.

They have owned the LGBT bookstore in Kerrytown's Braun Court since 2003 and wrote, "It has been a privilege and honor to be a part of an important part of LGBT culture both locally and across the nation. There are only about 10 LGBT bookstores remaining in the U.S. and Canada. We have managed to be one of the survivors until now."

They cited market pressures and plans to retire as the reason for the closure. 

Common Language Bookstore (Photo: Destination Ann Arbor)


Common Language Bookstore opened in 1991. Shortly after, Kate Burkhardt and Lynden Kelly acquired the store and ran it until their retirement in 2003, when Orr and Contreras purchased the store.

They thanked the previous owners, their customers, employees and community members who helped keep the shop going for years and kept it a place where all could feel welcome.

"Our heartfelt joy is when someone who has been alienated by their family or society discovers the store and realizes there is a larger world out there which accepts them for who they are," they wrote. "Online stores cannot replicate that experience."

The community responded with an outpouring of comments.

Orr and Contreras have been transparent about the financial struggles of the store, like this post from February:

A similar post caught the eye of a former Ann Arborite in April, who called on fellow tumblr users to support the store. Her post went viral and Common Language received an unprecedented amount of online orders. Still, it was not enough to save the shop.

Common Language will be open until Dec. 31. 

All inventory is now 20% off. In mid-November, everything will be 30% off, and during the last two weeks of the year, prices will drop to 50% off. 

This is the second independently-owned bookstore to close in Ann Arbor this year. In August, Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookshop closed for similar reasons

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