A beloved Asian American-owned bookstore in Manhattan’s Chinatown has reopened months after a fire gutted the small independent shop last summer.
On July 4, a residential unit above the bookshop caught fire, killing one of the building’s residents. The resulting smoke and water damage also devastated Yu & Me Books, destroying almost all of its inventory and equipment, according to a GoFundMe campaign store owner Lucy Yu set up to recuperate costs.
The independent bookstore reopened to a large crowd Sunday, when local authors, fellow booksellers and customers from all over New York City came out to celebrate the event.
“We are so excited to welcome you all back to our Yu & Me Books home,” the shop announced on Instagram. “We can’t wait to shed tears, laugh loudly, and open our hearts with all of you who have made us feel at home.”
Since opening in 2021, Yu & Me Books has been a safe haven for Asian Americans amid a surge in hate crimes during the pandemic. Yu told NBC News in October 2021 that the shop was born out of a lifelong dream of opening a bookstore that highlighted immigrant stories, particularly from the Asian diaspora.
“I want to showcase an inventory of all those voices at a time when it feels like our lives are in danger,” Yu said. “I dreamed of a place where people who look like me can walk into and think, ‘I see myself on the shelves, I feel seen here.’”
Among the top donors to the store’s GoFundMe were actor Simu Liu, known for his role in “Shang-Chi,” and the New York Times bestselling author Celeste Ng. As of Monday, the fundraising campaign had raised over $369,000 — more than double its original goal.
While the original bookstore was being repaired and renovated, the business continued running in a space at The Market Line, an underground marketplace in the Lower East Side, according to its Instagram account.
Yu & Me Books did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The newly opened bookstore, which is described as the first female-owned Asian American bookshop in New York City, looks slightly different but has the same mission to deliver the less-heard stories by authors of color. In its new iteration, it will keep on hosting author visits, artist pop-ups and community reading events.
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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com