Bookstore Featured On ‘Portlandia’ Faces Closure

The real Portland, Oregon, store used in comedy sketches about a feminist bookstore on the TV show “Portlandia” is in financial trouble and could close by February, its leaders say.

Photo: AP Photo / IFC
Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The store called In Other Words has been dubbed Women & Women First in the IFC show. It has gained attention from the sketches featuring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein as proprietors whose politics and attitudes – “We can order that for you. It will take a year to get here” – can be difficult for a variety of customers played by the likes of Steve Buscemi.

In 2011, after the first season of the series, Armisen and Brownstein appeared at a fundraiser for the store. But the attention hasn’t meant financial success, The Oregonian reported.

Like other independent American booksellers, In Other Words has been pressured by changes in the business, first from chain stores and then from the advent of digital technology and e-readers. Losing textbook sales a few years ago cut income by half, the store’s board members said.

It has tried to compensate by emphasizing organizing around feminist and community issues but it’s still losing $600 a month, board member and treasurer Madeline Jaross said at a general meeting Sunday.

The show pays a fee to use the store a few times a year, said another board member, Jane Knechtel, but “we are not rolling in money from ‘Portlandia,’ and we never have been.”

The store’s lease ends Feb. 28. Another meeting on the future of In Other Words will be held next month, Jaross said, but absent “extraordinary circumstances, I haven’t seen a path that we can continue.”