The smell of fire and burnt books at Yu and Me Books, a bookstore in Chinatown, reminds owner Lucy Yu of all of the dedication and passion she put into her store.
The store was destroyed by a fire in the apartment directly above the bookstore. As of Monday, the cause was unknown. Police said the fire seriously injured a man in his 70s, who is in critical condition.
“To walk in after the fire and see so much of that destroyed is heartbreaking,” Yu said.
What You Need To Know
- Yu and Me Books sells books highlighting Asian American authors and holds events celebrating Asian heritage
- A fire destroyed the store on the Fourth of July. Police said the fire seriously injured a man in his 70s, who is in critical condition
- Yu is looking for a temporary space for the store, and she wants to reopen the original space as soon as she can after it’s renovated
Yu says she was working in the store when it happened. The community, Yu’s friends and employees came together to help salvage what they could from the store.
“We tried to save as many books as we could,” Yu said.
Yu believes she is the only Asian woman in the city who owns a bookstore. The bookstore shines a light on Asian American authors.
“It was so much more than a bookstore. I’m getting goosebumps right now,” said Rene Lozzi, who worked some events at the store. "[Yu] is the kind of person who brings joy to every interaction she has, and somehow she has magnified that joy to an entire community."
Lois Lee, who was a veteran at the nonprofit Chinese-American Planning Council for more than 50 years, stopped by the store to show her support.
“There are no bookstores that really focuses on Asian American authors — not only Asian Americans, but people of color,” Lee said.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help Yu. She says the $150,000 goal was reached in four hours, and the page has raised more than $300,000.
“What’s healing my heart is the outpouring of love and support from everyone,” Yu said. And thanks to the donations, her staff will be paid for the next three months.
“None of them lose any of their benefits," Yu said. "They get to keep their health insurance."
And Yu says this adversity is not stopping her. She is planning on finding a temporary space, but hopes to have the original location gutted out and open as soon as she can.
“I’m so so thankful, and I’m so confident that we are going to keep going,” she said.