How Boston's Frugal Bookstore went viral amid Black Lives Matter protests

Darren Hartwell
·2 min read

How Boston's only Black-owned bookstore dealt with going viral originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Leonard and Clarissa Egerton worked hard to make Frugal Bookstore a staple of their community in the Boston neighborhood in Roxbury.

But they still weren't prepared for the events of last summer.

Frugal Bookstore is the only Black-owned bookstore in Boston. And after George Floyd's murder sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the country last June, Leonard and Clarissa were flooded with a level of activity they had never seen before.

Printers and publishers couldn't keep up with the surge in demand amid the pandemic, creating a backlog of orders for the independent bookstore.

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"It was on the same level as if you went to Target and there was no toilet paper," Leonard said in an interview with NBC Sports Boston.

The Egertons managed to get through the busy time, however. And while they received some complaints from customers over delayed orders, others were more understanding.

"A gentleman emailed and said, 'I read about all the backlash you're getting. Why can't people just be patient? Don't they know books don't spoil?' " Leonard recalled.

Months later, Frugal Bookstore continues to serve its community -- and serve as a model for the next generation of hopeful Black business owners.

"To visit different places where young folks are and they're like, 'Oh, you own a bookstore? You own your own business?' That's the greatest feeling when young folks are applauding you like that," Leonard said.

"To have them be able to witness us have this bookstore, have a place for them to come, have a sense of a vision for them so they can see themselves doing something similar or even greater is a good feeling."

Check out Leonard and Clarissa's full interview in the video player above.