by ana grarian
Just two years after a beloved local bookstore revitalized itself as a community owned cooperative with over 600 owners world-wide, disturbing news comes from the board of directors, with devastating impacts on employees.
Times are hard all over for small retail establishments, and perhaps nowhere more so than in book sales. The prevalence of electronic readers and increased capabilities of cell phones to deliver content, means we have seen even the big boxes leave town.
In it’s letter to shareholder’s the board at makes it clear that their lack of oversight may have delayed recognition of the financial problems.
Sales at the store have risen each year but have not kept pace with rising costs. And yet it is the booksellers, and office staff who are paying the price. We would assume those booksellers would have been instrumental in the additional sales. While hourly employees, who already work part-time, are seeing their hours reduced (in some cases to less that 5 hours per week), the General Manager hired by the board, has also hired a full-time Assistant Manager. It would seem the savings in reduced hours for staff, will be eliminated by the cost of yet another full time salaried employee.
These two employees are expecting to bring the store back from a financial cliff, after working at the store for only a month or so, and losing much of the expertise of senior staff workers.The new General Manager is touted as having a strong background in finance, and experience working with cooperatives, yet that did not help her to foresee the financial problems in her former position as treasurer.
Certainly the entire community hopes for a successful outcome. Our community is enriched by the presence of a full service Independent bookstore that combines personal service with a strong knowledge of what their customers want.