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  • Writer's pictureBethany Hammond

Minding Your Business: The Scoop

CARD CARRYING BOOKS & GIFTS – WELCOME TO THE SOUTHERN TIER’S INDEPENDENT FEMINIST BOOKSTORE

By Bethany Hammond


The pandemic brought about a period of immense change for people all over the world. Some found themselves picking up new hobbies, while others focused on revamping their living spaces. For me, the pandemic marked the start of a new chapter in my life when I was offered a position as a bookseller at Card Carrying Books & Gifts in September of 2020. As an avid reader and a staunch feminist, being employed at a local intersectional feminist bookstore felt like a dream come true. Little did I know that this opportunity would eventually lead me to become the proud owner of the shop three years later. As a Queer woman, it is imperative for me to be able to create a safe space for individuals of all backgrounds to explore and celebrate feminism through literature and gifts that resonate with their values and beliefs.


In 2023, Bethany Hammond, pictured here with resident cat Page Turner, became the owner of the independent, feminist bookstore, Card Carrying Books & Gifts, located on Market Street in Corning, N.Y. (Photo taken by Christine Wilken Photography)


At Card Carrying Books & Gifts, our mission is to pave the way for an intersectional feminist future by curating a collection of socially progressive books and gifts for individuals of all ages. As bell hooks once famously stated, “Feminism is for everybody. It’s not about hating men, but about challenging oppressive systems.” We firmly believe that reading is a powerful tool for dismantling the structures of inequality and injustice that have persisted throughout history.


In addition to having a wide selection of books for sale, Card Carrying offers a variety of events and activities that cater to everybody. One of the most popular events is the Book Club, which meets monthly to discuss a chosen book and engage in lively conversations. This is a great chance for book lovers to connect with like-minded individuals, explore new genres, and gain different perspectives.


Card Carrying also offers a Teen Book Club where teens can share their passion for reading and engage in meaningful discussions. This is a great way for teenagers to connect with others their age and develop a love for reading that will last a lifetime.


Card Carrying also hosts Poetry Readings where local poets share their work and connect with others who appreciate poetry.


For the youngest feminists, Card Carrying hosts Drag Story Hour, which features local Drag Queen Miss Vanessa La Diva. This event promotes inclusivity, diversity, and acceptance, and shows children different forms of expression and creativity.


Card Carrying Books & Gifts in downtown Corning, N.Y. has a variety of events for everyone. Pictured, left to right, Bookstore front, performer Miss Vanessa La Diva reads to an engaged audience during a Drag Story Hour, a Poetry Open Mic Night, resident cat Page Turner at the ready to welcome customers into the store, artist Eric Hammond (and Bethany’s partner) painting at Card Carrying, and the couple pose in the store entrance. (All photos courtesy of Bethany Hammond except final photo of Bethany and Eric Hammond, which is courtesy of Christine Wilken Photography)


In addition to these events, Card Carrying also collaborates with other local businesses to offer unique and exciting opportunities for the community. From author signings to pop-up shops, these collaborations provide a platform for local artists, entrepreneurs, and creators to showcase their work and connect with a wider audience.


Our bookstore has evolved into a sanctuary for those seeking a sense of belonging and understanding. The store’s long and narrow space — just nine feet wide — has become a bit of a clubhouse for area teenagers, which was the goal from the start for founder Randi Hewit. Here they can engage in passionate discussions and discover new perspectives through our diverse selection of literature. The influence of Card Carrying extends far beyond our physical walls, reaching individuals who seek to educate themselves on issues of gender equality, social justice, and intersectionality.


As we look toward the future, it is essential for Card Carrying Books and Gifts to continue evolving and adapting to meet the needs of our community. We must remain committed to amplifying marginalized voices, supporting local artists and authors, and engaging in meaningful dialogue about issues of social justice and equality. By staying true to our mission of creating an intersectional feminist future, we can effect positive change within our community and beyond.

What does it mean to own a feminist bookstore?

“Books have always been a great source of knowledge and entertainment. They can help us learn about different perspectives, cultures, and experiences. A feminist bookstore is the best place to not only gain knowledge, but also connect with like-minded individuals and build a strong community. It's really inspiring to see people come together and support each other in their fight for equality and justice.” – Bethany Hammond, owner of Card Carrying Books & Gifts.


Who is a woman that has inspired or influenced you, and why?

"My mom is my greatest influence. When my brother and I were growing up, she worked outside the home while also taking on the traditional gender role that most mothers and wives took on in the 80’s … she cleaned, and cooked, she shopped … she did it all. While I saw so much strength in my mom, I also recognized at an early age that gender roles are unfair and knew I would fight against them when I grew up. And she always told me that I could do anything!" – Bethany Hammond

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