DUMBO bookstore owner gets help from community to relocate

Darlene Okpo was told to vacate the storefront by the end of July due to ongoing issues with her landlord.

News 12 Staff

Jul 7, 2023, 12:41 AM

Updated 371 days ago


A Brooklyn community rallied behind a woman who owns bookstore in DUMBO and who has until the end of the month to leave her current storefront, citing issues with her landlord.
Darlene Okpo has had a passion for reading her whole life.
"Just being able to read something that is empowering. So, when it comes to reading, I like books that are just going to change my life," Okpo says.
She loves book so much that she opened her very own bookstore in DUMBO in 2021, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
"It was a big dream not only for me, but just like staying within the community, and then thinking about my students because I came from the education world," she adds.
After two years struggling with issues with her landlord, that dream came crashing down after she was told to vacate the storefront by the end of July. She says while she cannot mention the name of her landlord due to ongoing legal issues.
She adds that she has been dealing with plumbing issues that have not been fixed since she signed her lease.
"I'm not going to sit here and bash my management company, but it is a trend amongst a lot of small businesses where if we speak our mind, and we are very adamant about fixing certain issues. It's kind of like, 'you have got to go,'" Okpo says.
Not knowing what to do or where to go next, she put out a call to social media asking the community she has built over the years to support her in her time of need. Residents did just that by raising more than $7,000 in just a week.
"I'm excited because now I want to go into the phase of Addane 2.0 and having a bigger space and being able to have more community building within the store, so it gave me that motivation that I needed to keep going," she says.
She now hopes to use that money to help her relocate to a brand-new storefront in Bed-Stuy.
"The money is going to go towards securing the space in Bed-Stuy but also it's going to go into the building. It is a raw space. It needs a lot of tender love and care so it's going to go into that and just more inventory," Okope says.
The location at 234 Water St. will be open until July 20. Okope says she is planning to pack her stuff and move to the Bed-Stuy store.
Okope says she hopes to raise at least $30,000 to help in her transitional period.

More from News 12