Apple Book Center of Detroit Celebrates Re-Opening

Customers and Supporters Refuse to Let it Close
Facing a mountain of debt and sluggish sales, Sherry McGee told customers in February she was shuttering Detroit's Apple Book Center. There was just one hitch: customers wouldn't let her. An instant outpouring of community support made McGee regroup, and the west-side bookstore is celebrating its grand re-opening.

"When the community first showed me they wanted to fight, I took a fighter's attitude also," McGee says. "Just seeing how much they cared about it made all the difference for me."

Customers will now see newly stocked shelves and recently heard a presentation by Samcpson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt -- authors of "The Pact," (Riverhead Books, $24.95) -- discuss how they overcame their struggles to become doctors.

In its six-year history, Apple Book Center has become a Detroit institution, attracting a string of prominent authors for book signings and offering reading groups for all ages. Earlier this year, McGee faced $300,000 in short and long-term debt, largely from a post Sept. 11 sales slump.

She planned to close the store in March and refocus her work as an author of children's books. But a committee of supporters pitched ideas, including selling "Friends of Apple Book Center" memberships ($20 and higher) that entitled members to store discounts.

Between new orders and the more than 450 customers who have signed on as members, McGee says she has raised the $100,000 she needs to stay open. Also help from an understanding landlord, the Booker T. Washington Business Association and the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity, among others, has her confident about the store's future.

"I'm amazed," McGee says. "I was going to close and take my lumps and walk away, and it was this community that said 'No, you need to let us know when you need us.' It never dawned on me to ask the customers for help."