As residents and businesses alike get back into the swing of things after the holiday rush, the owners of Written Words Bookstore on Leavenworth Road have a lot to adjust to in 2013. With their five-year lease ending at the end of the month, it's time to relocate -- a task that's been more challenging than expected.
"When the holiday craziness started here at the store, we had to temporarily suspend our search because we found we could not concentrate on both," said Dorothy Sim-Broder, who co-owns Written Words with her husband David. "I had a chat with the landlord and he gave us a short extension. It’s nice not to have to think about it right now."
Sim-Broder said she'd like to say in Shelton, but the city may not be able to provide the right location. Right now, Written Words is located in White Hills shopping plaza, with ample parking and open space for the kind of customer base that comes with the bookstore.
"During our initial search we did find quite a few available spaces but none that are truly ideal at this point. It became a much larger project than we had anticipated," Sim-Broder said.
In September 2012, Sim-Broder launched an Indiegogo.com capital campaign, where customers and supporters contributed funds for the move. Unfortunately, the fundraising goal was not met, and Sim-Broder also reported that the store saw low holiday season sales this year.
"I think people are panicking and they think the economy isn’t good so they should hold onto their money. If everybody does that, we really need to close because we wont have enough sales," she said.
Just across city lines in Monroe, Linda Devlin, owner children's bookstore Linda's Story Time, said she feels similar pressures.
"People have to realize: use it or lose it. When someone spends money, that’s a vote. They are voting for the place to succeed," Devlin said.
Still, Written Words patrons are vying for its success.
"Every day people come in the door and they're so worried," Sim-Broder said. "Apparently many people have even approached the landlord. It’s really heartwarming to see the hometown support."
Devlin said independent bookstores provide the warm, personal atmosphere that neither big retail giants or the Internet can offer.
"We're fighting against the chains. I think it's tougher in general for a bookstore because people are going to maybe think of the chain first. I feel for them in Shelton, it’s not easy," Devlin said.
Though the real estate search process has been difficult, Sim-Broder said she thinks the moving part will be fun and that she is hopeful in the new year.
"I think once we find a new place, a lot of people will show up and bring some muscle. It could be like a community thing," she said. "Although it is a lot of work and it's stressful, I'm not down in the dumps."