DeAndra Beard, owner of Bind Café and Beyond Barcodes bookstore, is shown here on Jan. 21, 2016. Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune
DeAndra Beard, owner of Bind Café and Beyond Barcodes bookstore, is shown here on Jan. 21, 2016. Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

In the past few weeks, DeAndra Beard and her bookstore Beyond Barcodes Bookstore has been mentioned in a viral Instagram post and interviewed by both the New York Times and a major cable news network.

All the attention has brought in thousands of donations from across the country to help her put a down payment to purchase the building her business is currently operating in, located at 108 N. Main St. on the square.

The killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has led to protests against police violence in cities and towns across the country. It has also sparked a nationwide effort to support black-owned businesses.

Beard, a black woman, opened Beyond Barcodes and Bind Cafe in January 2016. The store mostly sells books written by or about people of color while also serving tea, coffee and sandwiches. But the business has also been more about the items it sells. It has a vision of helping people from different cultures gain common ground and acceptance through conversations.

“We want to carry books that help create that common ground,” Beard told the Tribune in 2016. “So, I try to bring in those works that can help people learn about everybody. We try to provide a diverse offering of themes. We have reading material for all levels — children’s books, middle-reader, young-adult and even some scholarly books for nerds like me.”

The business is currently facing one of its biggest challenges.

The owners of the building are looking to sell it, potentially leaving Beard to find another location. That’s on top of the the financial strain the pandemic has caused.

Beard’s desire would be to stay in her downtown location because it has a personal connection to her and her family.

Her father got his first job as a janitor at the age of 8-years-old at what was then Kresge department store, which was located in the building next door and just north of the bookstore. He worked there until he graduated high school. He is now heavily involved in his daughter’s business and its underlying vision.

“As a Black woman business owner in downtown Kokomo ... I mean, I was a teenager, and the Ku Klux Klan was still marching on the square,” Beard told RTV 6. “It’s a big deal that we’re in this location. The fact that we’re even here is a miracle.”

In December, the bookstore launched a GoFundMe to raise the $40,000 needed for the down payment.

Initial support was small and from locals. On June 8, only $1,315 had been raised. But things were about to change in a big way.

On June 2, the business was featured in an Instagram post that highlighted black-owned bookstores across the U.S. and encouraged people to buy from them. The post went viral and was subsequently picked up by Entertainment Weekly. After the list went viral, the bookstore – and others like it across the country – was swamped with orders from every state in the country, selling out of many books.

She was then interviewed by the New York Times. Just a few days later, Beard was interviewed on national TV by Jennifer Westhoven on HLN.

The national attention has led to a huge increase in donations to the GoFundMe effort, raising just under $25,000 as of Friday afternoon.

Beard said she is hopeful that she’ll soon be able to buy the building, but if it doesn’t work out that way, she will move to another location and keep the vision behind her business alive.

“No matter what, the business is going to go on,” Beard said. “If we’re not here, we’re going to land, and we’re going to keep going and we want everyone to go with us.”

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