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So long, Booksellers

Booksellers%27+storefront+closing+banner.
Booksellers' storefront closing banner.

Booksellers' storefront closing banner.

Booksellers' storefront closing banner.

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Tears have been shed, petitions have been made, and word has spread: Booksellers at Laurelwood is officially closing by the end of February.

For years, the locally-owned bookstore has been a destination for White Station students and the Memphis community. It was a place to hang out with friends, grab a bite to eat and buy books and gifts.

“It’s been my go-to place for so many things for so long– from gifts, to books I need for my classes or just personal books,” 12th grade English teacher Monique Fisher said. “Or sometimes, because it’s so close to White Station, I go there to de-stress a little bit.”

For many, Booksellers served as a second home and a comfortable place to relax.

Since the first announcement of the closing, several petitions have been created, including one created by Emmett Miskell (12). The goal is to get 5,000 signatures; upon reaching that mark, Miskell plans to look for investors to sponsor Booksellers. Despite multiple efforts in Memphis to save the bookstore, it is unlikely that it will remain open, largely due to high rent.

“We reached a point where the store and the rent were too large for the sales we were doing, even though we had a lot of sales,” Neil Van Uum, owner of Booksellers for 22 years, said.

In addition to rent, the popularity of online shopping and free content on the Internet have placed the book business under tremendous amounts of pressure. Technology these days allows people to get what they want at the touch of a button, eliminating the need for bookstores.

Booksellers has also built a sense of community in Memphis. The various programs and events that it hosted made it one of a kind. There, you could buy books written by local authors as well as attend author chats– features almost nonexistent in larger chain bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble. These events offered Memphians the opportunity to connect with authors, customers and employees and make new friends.

“What works in Memphis is when we connect as a community,” Fisher said. “We see we have more similarities than differences, and this is another place that the connection will be lost when it closes.”

As long as online shopping continues to grow in popularity, the book business will continue to decline. Even though Booksellers is closing, Memphis still has several other book options open, such as Burke’s, the Memphis Public Library,  and The Book Place.

“Thanks for your support,” Uum said. “We are touched by a lot of the response from people…There will be another bookstore in this area, and I’m working to ensure that that happens.”

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So long, Booksellers