By John O’neill
Horizon Books is a great bookstore, a downtown anchor and a third place that builds community. Amy and Victor Herman deserve our gratitude, a decent retirement and fair compensation for the value of the property.
Horizon need not close. The challenge of the internet will require innovation, but the person-to-person synergy here cannot be duplicated digitally. Recognition of its value, vision and the commitment to keep it thriving is needed.
Options include finding a buyer committed to running it as a business, converting Horizon into a worker-owned business, a cooperative business or a nonprofit.
Examples of such transformations abound. The for-profit Minervini Group renovated Building 50 and continues to transform the State Hospital complex into the Commons. This serves many vital community functions. The Park Place Hotel was in danger of shutting its doors when Rotary Charities stepped in to keep it humming. Rotary renovated it, preserved jobs and partnered with NMC’s culinary and hospitality programs. The hotel is now a for-profit business and these NMC programs continue to thrive.
Member-owned co-ops contribute greatly to our economy. They include credit unions, Oryana Food, Cherryland Electric and farmer-owned co-ops. Nonprofits like Habitat and Goodwill have built homes and apartments that the market cannot deliver. Horizon could follow one of these paths.
The Traverse City Film Festival folks partnered with Rotary and other donors to revitalize the State Theatre. Enthusiastic volunteers both famous and shy have brought great movies to town for 15 years and later renovated the Con Foster Museum into the Bijou By the Bay Theater.
Consider other examples. Volunteers and donors large and small made possible a spectacular renovation of the Opera House, which now presents delightful performers and provides a venue for MSU’s Warton Center for the Performing Arts, the National Writer’s Series and others. The Crooked Tree Arts Center has revitalized the former Carnegie Library to present the visual arts.
Horizon is a unique third place: a great book store, intimate performance space, coffee house and meeting place for clubs and groups working for the common good. It promotes literacy and thoughtful dialogue. Lose Horizon and we forfeit a treasure.
Thousands of readers and others are eager and waiting to help muster the support, vision and volunteers to keep Horizon Books a living part of Traverse City region. It’s happened before and it can happen again!
About the author: John O’Neill is a local writer and artist. He worked as gourmet sous chef, in homeless shelters and to build affordable homes. A practicing Catholic, he is passionate about the environment and peace.