By early afternoon, word had spread and dozens of customers crowded the bookstore's aisles. One of the nation's largest black-owned bookstore chains, Karibu, will be closed by mid-February, and people brought their shock and sadness to Bowie Town Center, along with their checkbooks.
Freddie Mills, a security officer who was scanning the aisles as his 2-year-old daughter played nearby, said he was "angry, angry, angry."
"Where are we going to get books for our kids?" he said.
This was more than a bookstore; it was community, it was "culture," Mills said. Urban-lit author Omar Tyree, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison and local bestselling erotica author Zane are among the many writers who have done signings for the stores.
"It's like the barbershop, like the black beauty salon," said co-owner Simba Sana. "It's a place where black people can come and lay their heads down."
But Sana said the closings were not caused by financial pressures. "Karibu's demise is a result of the ownership, including myself, failure to resolve conflict in a peaceful way and also a failure to end relationships amicably," he said.