Places that Matter

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Indigo Cafe and Books (former)

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Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Black-owned bookstore, cafe and community space, now online
Place Details »

Place Matters Profile

Until its 2004 closing, Indigo Café and Books in Fort Greene was one of only a few black-focused and operated bookstores in Brooklyn. More than just a bookstore and café, Indigo was also a cultural center and the sponsor of numerous community events.

In the 1990s Jennifer Brissett, a former electrical engineer and computer programmer living near Fort Greene, realized the need for a neighborhood bookstore. She envisioned a community space that was warm and inviting--a place to "break down walls between people with books."

Brissett found space for her new business in a former storefront beauty parlor on Fulton Street. Here she created a modern-feeling bookstore with brick interiors. Among Indigo's features were a health-conscious café that was used both as a reading and meeting area, a seating area with African-inspired decor and a backyard garden--all places to encourage gathering and relaxation. Also true to her original vision, Indigo served as a cultural center, sponsoring a number of community events such as readings, dance and theater performances, workshops (such as Feng Shui), community speakers, and weekend jazz performances. Often community members and speakers discussed social and political issues such as the economy, reparations for the years of slavery, and post 9-11 depression. Indigo was also one of a number of local organizations that hosts the Fort Greene Juneteenth Celebration.

As with many small businesses, Indigo has been a labor of love and Brissett has struggled with the economic downturn, the pressures of gentrification, and rising costs. Unfortunately, in 2004 the strain of running a small business in tough economic times forced Brissett to close Indigo, although she hopes to reopen in another location in the future, and is also planning an online community bookstore at www.indigocafe.com.

2005 Update: log onto Indigocafe.com for the online version of this much-loved bookstore. Indigocafe.com describes itself as a "a progressive, independent, online community bookstore. We sell our books to customers from all over the US and throughout the world. Our customers and visitors are an online community of thoughtful people who share a love for books and a dedication to progressive values."