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Saving a Bookstore in Ithaca

Friday, April 8, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: LocalShops1 Girl
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Buffalo Street Books was really struggling. After 35 years in business, the last independent bookstore in Ithaca, N.Y., was planning to shut down for good.

"People are reading less, they’re reading on different devices, and the people who are buying books … are buying from It’s wiped out the independent books stores,” owner Gary Weissbrot, 71, told the Cornell Daily Sun in February. Before Big Box book retailers Barnes & Noble and Borders moved in about a decade ago, there were six independent bookstores. Now it was down to just his, he said.

And now it was time for his to go, too. By end of March, he planned to clear the inventory and move on.

But then something happened. Buffalo Street Books outreach coordinator  Bob Proehl  came up with a plan to save the bookstore: Turn the store into a community-owned cooperative. The result was amazing.

As part of a community buyout in early March, the paper writes, 500 local residents bought 997 shares, raising almost  $250,000 — and saving their beloved bookstore.

The Buffalo Street Books is now restructuring & remodeling and anticipates opening again sometime in April.

"This is an absolutely remarkable and unique community!" Weissbrot writes on the bookstore's website. "I am flabbergasted and thrilled to announce that, contrary to what I emphatically stated just three weeks ago, Buffalo Street Books is not closing for good."