December 12, 2007

Parents Treated Best Children's Book Store In Nation, Now Closed, Like Fair-To-Middlin' Library

Oops, I didn't know that "the most outstanding children's bookstore in the nation" was in Washington DC. Old Town Alexandria, actually, where a book-passionate couple with no business sense threw popular events, gave away books at storytime, had Harry Potter street fairs for thousands of kids--while ordering just 300 copies of the last book, didn't want to take a chance on an unknown quantity--and basically did everything but figure out how to get the party-throwing, online-shopping, discount-chasing, merch-mangling yuppies who filled the store to actually buy some books.

RIP, store I'd never heard of.

For Children's Bookstore, an Unhappy End [washpost]
DC Parents Let Children's Bookstore Die Out[galleycat]


This bookstore was an institution in that neighborhood. I'd been there several times but this was the first time I had heard that it had closed. It sounds like the new owners took a business that had been successful and profitable for more than 20 years and ran it into the ground. But she seems to blame the community rather than herself for that.

[more like they loved it into the ground, but still. they also had no capital. -ed.]

I don't know this bookstore at all. Never even been in DC.

It is very possible that they didn't do a good job with the business and try to blame the community for it. Heck, it probably is the reason.

However, one must also admit and as noted by some of the facts in the article regarding that bookstores have low profit margin etc, as well as with the Internet becoming so readily available to everyone in the last several years, the market situation has changed drastically for bookstore owners, and many other types of retail stores.

[to their credit, I don't think the owners publicly blamed the customers/community so much as the article--and the blog posts about it *cough DT cough* did. Running a bookstore the way they did is a benefit to the community and the quality of life, but frankly, it's also something of a luxury. i.e., it doesn't make sustainable economic sense all the time. -ed.]

I liked that place. I like Old Town, and I liked having a kids bookstore in walking distance. But truth be told their selection wasn't very good; while I'm willing to make sacrifices so that I can stroll to a store rather than packing the kid into the car for a trip to the local Big Box, I can see why it would be hard for them to compete with places that actually stock a lot of books.

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