Our Mission and Vision

Buffalo Street Books was founded as a cooperatively-owned bookstore in April of 2011. Hundreds of new “owners” from our community came together to raise a quarter of a million dollars to purchase the store.

Ever since, Buffalo Street Books has been vigilant in re-imagining the ways an independent bookstore can serve its community. Or, as we sometimes say, loving our community through books.

As a cooperative business created by and for our community, our primary purpose is not to create profit for one individual but to serve our members and customers. We do so by offering a welcoming environment, a diverse and eclectic selection, and programming that reaches every corner of our community.

Decisions are made by staff, our Executive Board (elected by cooperative owners), and by our 900+ (and counting!) owner/stakeholders.

Indie bookstores have been cited as critical to the health and success of downtowns, and we are proud to contribute to the intellectual, social, economic, and cultural life of Ithaca. We believe in small business and are part of the #ShopLocalIthaca initiative.

Buffalo Street Books is committed to inclusivity and racial justice and seeks to be an inclusive and safe space for all. We strive to treat each other and our customers with respect and kindness and to create an environment where everyone can flourish and be their authentic self. We work to demonstrate practices that foster a sense of belonging, shared responsibility, collaboration, and innovation. 

Toni Morrison wrote, “The human project is to remain human and to block the dehumanization and estrangement of others.”

Buffalo Street Books is committed to that project in the form of fighting racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia and the oppression of all marginalized people. We do this by carrying and promoting books by a diverse range of authors, by hosting spaces for community conversations about social justice, and by collaborating with community organizations in their consciousness-raising efforts. 

Each member of our team is valuable to the store and our customers, and we expect that they will be treated as such by coworkers and customers. We take seriously our role as an employer and are proud to pay our employees a Living Wage.

At our events and in our space, we will not tolerate racist, homophobic, transphobic, or sexist behaviors. If you are considering Buffalo Street Books as a space for your event, please keep these values in mind. 

We strive to carry a wide range of books from diverse perspectives and to ensure our inventory reflects and holds appeal for all members of our community. If the situation arises where a book is felt to be hurtful or inappropriate by our staff or customers, we may choose to not carry that book. If you ever have a concern about a book in our inventory, please feel free to address our general manager with those concerns. 

In our aspiration toward becoming a truly antiracist bookstore, we continue to scrutinize our business at every level, from our hiring practices to our inventory. Staff and board members (particularly those who are white) are regularly invited to and participate in antiracist trainings and readings. We are committed to reckoning with the ways we as individuals and as a business participate in a white supremacist society.