Earlier this week, the independent bookstore Westsider Rare & Used Books announced it would be closing after 35 years on the Upper West Side. There was an immediate outcry of support from locals and longtime customers, and owner Dorian Thornley did note in an interview with West Side Rag that if they could crowdfund $50K, he could keep it open. "Don’t see that happening though," he noted. But he may have underestimated the love for his shop, because patrons have now raised over $26K in one day!

"It was an off-the-cuff remark, but it was also quite accurate," Thornley told Gothamist today. "Someone started a GoFundMe page. If we get to $50K, then we'll definitely stay open."

The GoFundMe campaign was started by UWS local Bobby Panza, who did not speak to Thornley (nor did he know him) before starting it. "I had a tough day, so when I read the sad news and his doubts that someone would start a 'Crowd Funder' to keep the shop open I just wanted to brighten his spirits that someone would do that for him," Panza told us. "I just went for it and made the GoFundMe right after I read the article."

As for why he felt so compelled to act, he said, "I support small businesses and Westsider Rare & Used Books means so much to many people. It's my little cousin Ben's favorite place. Westsider is part of the fabric of this community that gives the Upper West Side its soul. I was seeing so much sadness and disappointment that Westsider was closing in comments sections from various pages reporting the story, I wanted to help. Westsider Rare & Used Books is classic Upper West Side. And it warms my heart to see the community at large come together to work and save it."

When the GoFundMe reached over $10K, Panza did reach out to Thornley to introduce himself and let him know what was going on. "I woke up in the morning and it was already in full flight," Thornley said. "But I don't know the guy, it was a shock to me as it was everybody else."

If the fundraising campaign reaches its goal, Thornley said a certain amount of the money would go toward paying back-rent, and the rest would be spent on "better and better books, and probably restructuring our advertising." He noted that after many years in which Westsider and Barnes and Noble were the only bookstores in the neighborhood, there's been three or four new ones that have opened, which may have hurt business. "I'm sure that's had some sort of effect, I can't say if it's the whole problem or part of the problem," he said. "Usually, competition is good, especially with books, and I certainly wouldn't complain about any bookstore opening."

Westsider, which was originally known as Gryphon Books, began as "a wheelbarrow full of used books for sale" before moving to the tiny storefront on Broadway between West 80th and West 81st Streets. The store has the feel of a classic, pre-Internet NYC bookstore, the kind where people had to carefully walk over piles of seemingly random dusty used books just to navigate the aisles, or to get access to the narrow staircase to the second floor.

As for what kinds of responses he's gotten from people since the initial closure announcement, Thornley said a lot of longtime customers have bemoaned "the fact the neighborhood is changing to the point that for them, it's unrecognizable. So people were like, 'enough is enough, this one we have to save,' which obviously makes me feel great."

"It's pretty amazing and gratifying," he continued. "I'm just glad people like it and we stuck to our guns and didn't change the thrust of the store. We just try to sell a ton of good used books and things you can't find anywhere else. And it looks like people appreciate that, and they're hitting the crowdfunding page."

And don't worry—if they remain open he has no plans on changing the look or feel of the store. "If I was going to start selling smelly candles and stuff like that, I would have done it a long time ago."