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Iconic Grants Pass shop saved by GoFundMe account

GRANTS PASS — Blind George's Newsstand seemed on the edge of closing before it got new life earlier this month with the announcement of a buyer for the 122-year-old building it inhabits.

Now some people are wondering what happened to the GoFundMe account set up to aid the landmark business, which sells popcorn, ice cream, newspapers and more, in downtown Grants Pass. The account raised $3,707. Some backlash flared up on social media on the topic.

"I was just going to give it to the new buyer," said Jack Smith, who owns Blind George's with wife Brenda. "The ones who donated aren't even asking."

The Smiths were given an eviction notice from the building's owner in February, saying they had to be out by May 1.

Julie Tyrrell of neighboring business Fiona Bean said she started the GoFundMe account to help the Smiths in case they had to move. The Smiths live upstairs from the business.

Tyrrell said she also wants the money to go to the new buyer of the building, who remains anonymous.

"Ultimately, we want to abide by the guidelines of GoFundMe," Tyrrell said.

Tyrrell added that she's in contact with GoFundMe, and funds have not been disbursed yet.

Jennifer Taylor, daughter of the Smiths, posted a long note on Blind George's Facebook page about gossipy allegations of improper use of the funds.

"We're sick and tired of all this nonsense," she said. "We were blessed to be able to find a buyer. All we did was try to save my parents' business and my parents' home."

"It's just about our town and keeping Blind George's open," added Tyrrell.

Blind George's will celebrate its 95th anniversary April 14. It's named after George Spencer, who founded it in 1922 at a nearby location. The Smiths have owned the business for eight years.

Blind George's, at 117 S.W. G St., is open 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

— Reach reporter Jeff Duewel at 541-474-3720 or jduewel@thedailycourier.com