Gifts of Athena

in Businesses and Stores

Gifts of Athena, a feminist and lesbian bookstore owned by Heather Thorp and Susan Bennett, opened at 2199 Lee Road in 1990. Though Gifts of Athena sold a variety of books on topics related to sexuality, lesbianism, feminism, gender, it was a “community resource as much as a bookstore.” Over the years, numerous Cleveland lesbians and feminists utilized the store to host meetings, plan events, and socialize. Gifts of Athena maintained a community bulletin board, and women “often [went there to go check the latest postings, pick up tickets to concerts and events, and catch up on the latest news in the community.” The store frequently hosted “group meetings, exhibitions, book readings, and discussions” for many women’s organizations without spaces of their own (including Oven Productions, Windsong, and the Women’s Building Project). In 1993, owners Heather Thorp and Susan Bennett won a joint Woman of the Year award from the Gay People’s Chronicle Fifth Annual Community Service Awards in recognition of their contributions to Cleveland’s women’s’ communities. When Gifts of Athena underwent a financial crisis that threatened its closure in 1994, Cleveland women rallied together, collected donations, and formed a fundraising committee to help the store pay off its debts. Thanks to the women’s community, Gifts of Athena remained open after settling its debts. Gifts of Athena continued to serve as a social and organizational hub for Cleveland’s lesbian and feminist communities until it closed in 1996.

Additional information coming soon.


  • Bair, S. K. “Women of the Year Offer Information and Company.” Gay People’s Chronicle. January 22, 1990. Page 20, 22.
  • Blessing, Shana R. “Womyn’s Words.” Gay People’s Chronicle. May 1990. Page 6.
  • “Brynna Fish Interview, 17 August 2023.” Cleveland Voices.
  • Cudnik, Doreen. “Gifts of Athena to Close if Debt Can’t Be Paid.” Gay People’s Chronicle. August 5, 1994. Page 5.
  • “Feminist Bookstore to be Sold.” Gay People’s Chronicle. June 21, 1996. Page 8.
  • “Gifts of Athena Burglarized.” Gay People’s Chronicle. October 15, 1993. Page 2.
  • “In Box.” Gay People’s Chronicle. November 25, 1994. Page 9.
  • Kisner, Kathleen. “An Environment of Women.” Plain Dealer. January 26, 1991.
  • Klasek, Faith. “New Bookstore Opens in Cleveland Heights.” Gay People’s Chronicle. March 1990. Page 3.
  • Leach, Dawn. “Women’s Bookstore Closes.” Gay People’s Chronicle. December 6, 1996. Page 7.
  • “Sally Tatnall Interview, 05 June 2019.” Cleveland Voices.
2199 Lee Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

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