Friday, August 12 2022

WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB / WSHM) – An independent bookstore in Westfield is fighting to stay open.

The combination of online shopping and the growing popularity of digital books is partly responsible for their struggle, but after receiving an eviction notice, the store owner finds unique ways to keep the lights on and bring the community together. before it is too late. .

Blue Umbrella Book Store, located in downtown Westfield, is one of the few independent bookstores in western Massachusetts.

“I have books on the Holocaust and civil rights that are no longer on the shelves of a local library, but they are here and you can read about it, so we kind of get a treasure trove of others. people, ”said Russell Atwood, owner of Blue Umbrella Books.

However, the store is now in danger of closing permanently.

“I mean, I’m right this second, I’m facing an eviction notice. I’m facing three months of late rent that we have to. Go to court and argue this thing,” Atwood said.

In the meantime, Atwood told Western Mass News that Blue Umbrella Books has new ways to attract customers and stay open.

“We do a lot of events, kids readings, a ghost story show once a month and things like that,” Atwood explained.

Not only is Blue Umbrella Books doing all they can to keep its doors open, but book lovers are now rallying to help.

“Right now we’re having a free sale and a local woman said, ‘I want to sponsor this, so I’m going to put money for all the books they get for free,” Atwood noted.

Atwood said that a combination of online book sales, Audibles and digital books is partly responsible for the stores struggle.

“The last three Christmases I did three months rent just for the Christmas season and this year I did one month rent,” Atwood said.

Also, offering discounted books in a popular downtown location with a high rent isn’t helpful either.

“It’s interesting that because I’m a second-hand bookstore and serve the community in so many ways I have to set prices based on my customers, so when I have a young mother that comes with two kids, make sure they get a good deal on their books, ”Atwood said.

However, Atwood isn’t giving up. He hopes the events and the community will help Blue Umbrella Books stay open for generations to come.

“One of the coolest things, especially with kids events, when the kids are excited to get the books and it’s great. There is a generation that is ditching cell phones and wants to re-read a book, “Atwood noted.

If you want to help Blue Umbrella Books stay open, you can find out more about a GoFundMe here.

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