The bookstore suffered damage from a July 4 fire and is holding an online auction, which will run through Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. ET
A New York City bookstore is holding an online auction to raise funds following a devastating fire — and dinner with actor Randall Park is the top prize.
On July 4, Yu & Me Books, located in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood, suffered significant damage when a residential unit above the store caught fire. Yu & Me lost the majority of their inventory equipment due to heavy smoke and water damage. The store was forced to cease operations and undergo a complete renovation.
“We're still working on getting the original store up and running again, so I hope to have that completed by early next year,” owner Lucy Yu tells PEOPLE. “And once we do, I hope to welcome everyone back.”
Yu opened the bookstore, which featured diverse books with a focus on immigrant stories, per its website, in 2021. Yu, a former chemical engineer and supply chain manager, as well as the child of a Chinese immigrant, wanted to create the first Asian-American woman-owned bookstore in Manhattan, as stated in the store's initial GoFundMe page. Yu & Me was viewed as a safe space within the community, particularly during the rise of anti-Asian hate in the city.
Following the fire, Yu & Me launched a GoFundMe recovery fund for the store, with donations going toward staff wages, insurance deductibles and replacing damaged inventory, among other allocations. The bookstore surpassed their $150,000 goal, raising over $300,000 at the time of this article’s publication. Other New York City bookstores, such as Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic and the East Village’s Book Club Bar opened their spaces to host Yu & Me events, per NPR. The store temporarily reopened on Sept. 16 at The Market Line on the Lower East Side.
“Opening the first store was the hardest thing I probably ever had to do, and then I now have to do it two more times,” Yu says. “But this time, having to do it with such a wonderful, reliable team has just made it so much more doable and fun.”
Yu & Me is currently continuing their fundraising goals with a new auction, in partnership with author Hua Hsu, who organized the event around the paperback release of his book Stay True. The auction, which is open now and closes Thursday, Sept. 21 at 9 p.m ET, is running online through 32auctions.com. Anyone can enter a bid, but you must create an account to do so.
The auction offers nine prizes including original work by artists Andrew Kuo and Naomi Otsu and bookends from the store. The current top prize is a dinner with Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat, Always Be My Maybe, Shortcomings) at Brooklyn’s Win Son Restaurant. All proceeds will go toward additional recovery funds for the store.
“These are some incredible prizes from brands that I followed for so long and donated by people that I'm such big fans of,” Yu says. "It's actually extended the arms of the community...I feel like a winner already."
For more information and to bid on that dinner, visit the Yu & Me auction page here.
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Read the original article on People.