After facing permanent closure, The Anarchist, an anti-capitalist café on Jarvis Street, recently found enough support from a global community to remain open. Current operational plans only extend to the end of the summer.
A year into business Gabriel Sims-Fewer, owner and sole employee of the café, came to the decision to close last week due to a “brutal winter” where there was not much foot traffic into the café and he was not making enough money to keep the café open.
“It was extremely stressful, I feel like a lot of people know what money stress is like. It very much started to feel like a situation where if it went too long, I would not be able to get back out of it,” says Sims-Fewer.
Within the week of the announcement of closing, Sims-Fewer received emails from around the world, such as Europe and Asia, offering financial, business and emotional support for the café to remain open.
“It was a tough decision I had to make, but it was clear to me from the volume of support and the number of people offering to help…I decided that there was enough possibility that it was worth the risk to keep trying,” Fewer says.
Sims-Fewer found the amount of emails he got to be overwhelming until he decided to keep the café open. He says that once he made the decision the support emails gave him the same energy as when he first opened the café.
“I really expected more backlash, the response of this community has been awesome,” says Fewer. “I was surprised by how many people in the US and Ontario have made multi-hour drives to come to the café; the negativity has only really come from online.”
Not all the emails he received from around the globe were as kind. As news of the closure spread, groups that opposed Sims-Fewer’s values caught wind and sent emails praising his downfall while calling him racial and homophobic slurs. He says that the hate emails were primarily from Texas, with a few from Florida.
Despite remaining open the future is uncertain for the cafe. Sims-Fewer is currently exploring all available options such as moving to a new location and to him the most important option of becoming a worker co-op.
“I’m working hard to grow the business to the point where it can financially support more workers. Once there are multiple workers, my goal is for all of us to make the same wage, a living wage or above, and all to have completely equal decision making power, within a consensus-based democratic system,” Fewer says on his website.
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