Bookstore’s closure is a blow to Basalt
Well miss you, Town Center Booksellers. The independent bookstore on Basalts Midland Avenue announced Monday that it would close later this month, and while we were not surprised about this because of the recession, were saddened nonetheless.This was a bookstore that seemed to be doing everything right. From Day One it hired staff who were both friendly and knowledgeable about books. The owners offered cups of free coffee and tea a small expense on their part that went a long way in goodwill toward customers. They held a monthly book club that was open to the public, hosted guest speakers and partnered with local nonprofits like the Aspen Writers Foundation and the Aspen Institute. Perhaps, most importantly, for most of its history Town Center Booksellers was open until 9 p.m. six days a week, filling that what are we going to do after dinner business niche.We recognize that in this valleys revolving-door marketplace, a business that calls it quits after just four and a half years isnt unusual. But Town Center Booksellers worked its way into our hearts quickly. The store became a community center of sorts, where the town manager stopped in for an afternoon cup of coffee, kids partied bleary-eyed until midnight waiting for the release of the latest Harry Potter book, and even Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and Neil Diamond seemed to enjoy stopping in when they were in town.Its not fair to ask owners Louise and Clay Bennett to reconsider their decision to close the store in this economy, we certainly cant blame them. But can we blame ourselves, for browsing in the store more often than we were buying? For taking our kids to story hour at the shop on Tuesday mornings, and then straight to the library to borrow books, rather than buy them? Independent bookstores dont have it easy, competing with giant book retailers like Barnes & Noble and Borders, where the retailer buys books in such large quantities that theyre able to pass discounts on to readers. Without a big-box retailer of books in the Roaring Fork Valley, we can cast aspersions upon Amazon.com, which offers discounts plus to-your-door delivery.Maybe a town of 3,000 people like Basalt couldnt financially support its own independent bookstore. But we think Town Center Booksellers should know that we appreciated its presence for the past several years, and its business plan to first become our friend, and then a trusted retailer.
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