A Farewell to my Local Independent Bookstore

As you guys have probably guessed, I buy books.  A lot of books.  So many that the owner of the local bookstore and I are on a first name basis.  She and her husband have been known to set aside books for me because they think I might enjoy them.  They’re a sweet older couple and they run the only bookstore within a 100km radius.

Today I learned that they’re closing down in February.  Apparently they’ve been living in survival mode for a long time.  The bookstore barely makes enough money for them to survive on so they’re retiring.  Their building had been sold and they can’t afford the rent the new owners are going to charge.  From now until the time they close everything in the store is 30% off.

Why are these people not making money?

That’s a question I’ve pondered for hours today.  I live in an area that’s booming for the first time in living memory.  We’re a long way from the oil fields but people who work there like to keep their families here in our small community.  The crime rate is pretty much 0, the school isn’t terrible and it’s quite a popular tourist attraction because of the lake.  My village only has a population of 300 people if you count the surrounding farms but we live within an hour of two small cities so it’s not like we’re totally isolated.  The place where I work has never been busier and houses are going up so fast my head is spinning.  Remember the recession of ’08?  Well, in 2008 we were doing so well we had a housing boom and are still short on labour to this day.  So why shouldn’t the independent bookstore succeed?  There are more than enough people here to support it.

The problem is the Walmart mentality.  Walmart sells a few books cheaper than the independent bookstore could ever hope to so people flock there for their reading.  Or they order online from Amazon and only go into the bookstore on a rare occasion.  They don’t support their local businesses and now they’re crying when the local businesses disappear.  I’ve always done my best to buy locally but I can’t support the whole area when almost everyone else is buying cheaper online stuff or going grocery shopping in the city.

So now, instead of buying my books only 60km away the nearest bookstore is more than 200km away.  I’ll be relying more on books authors send me to be sure but I’ll also have to suck it up and order through Amazon.  It’s a sad day for local business.

4 comments

  1. Jemima Pett

    It is sad. It’s also a problem for many more traditional shopkeepers. The margins they make just aren’t enough to pay modern rents and overheads. I hope they have a happy retirement. I realise I put that in the story myself. I hope they have a contented future, at any rate.

    • Carrie Slager

      I hope so too. They’re thinking of going around to flea markets in summer to sell the used books they still have, but it’s just not the same. At least they’ll have some more time to spend with their granddaughter. 🙂

  2. literaryvittles

    I’m really glad you posted this. I’m happy to say I’ve never bought a book from WalMart, though I am guilty of ordering from Amazon – mostly for textbooks, though. I also like the new header! forgot to mention that.

    • Carrie Slager

      (Sorry for losing your comment!)

      I do shop from Amazon as well and it’s understandable for things like textbooks. It isn’t good for the local economy to shop only through Amazon, especially when it comes to small businesses.

      Thanks. I love the header as well. 🙂 Diantha Jones did a great job designing it.

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