Bookseller Stories // vol. 3 // June ’19

It has been an extremely busy few weeks at the Binc Foundation. Many more requests are coming in this year than this time last year, and the need for funds is also higher – and disaster season hasn’t even gotten started. The helpline is ringing and emails are coming in every day from booksellers who are on the edge of crisis. The good news is, because of you, Binc is here and ready to help get these booksellers through some of the most difficult times in their lives.


Early spring in the upper Midwest is no time to be without heat when temperatures continue to dip to near freezing in early May. This is exactly what a bookseller faced last month. After a roommate moved away unexpectedly, the bookseller tried to manage household expenses on their own but fell behind on their utility bills. When there isn’t enough money to go around, difficult choices must be made and people find themselves choosing between medicine, shelter, food, or utilities. In spite of taking on additional work hours and a second job, they could not make up the entire balance owed to the utility company and shut-off was threatened as the bills piled up.

Most states have laws and regulations in place that determine when an electric, gas, water, or utility company may disconnect a customer’s service. States regulate when a utility company can turn off the heat in the cold winter months and turn off electricity during the hot summer. These regulations vary by state but usually prohibit gas shut-off from November to March. One effect of these regulations is a flood of shut-off notices in the fall and the spring of each year leaving people without the ability to heat and cool their homes, keep their food from spoiling in the fridge, and use their ovens and stoves to cook meals.

This is exactly the situation that a bookseller faced. They put their limited income towards rent and groceries and were working hard to find a solution when they were convinced by a thoughtful co-worker and friend to call Binc for help. Because of your donations and support, we could pay the $700 balance to keep the natural gas on for this hard-working bookseller. Because of you, this bookseller could keep warm on freezing early spring nights. Having this bill paid not only gave them warmth, but also the breathing room to figure out their next steps.

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