"A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking." Jerry Seinfeld


Farewell Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Tonite, after ten years in Cleveland, our store will gather for its last holiday party. To say tonite will be bittersweet is the understatement of the decade.

We were never just a bookstore staff. Over the years we've become relationship counselors, shoulders to lean on, and partners in crime -- not only to each other, but also to our customers. Our favorite moments consisted of those conversations with other book lovers who were looking for a good read, a book for their mother, an "I'm sorry" gift for their partner, or an educational toy for their grandchild. We loved when customers came back, seeking us out for more advice after we'd been so helpful on their last visit. We remember hugging customers who were looking for a book to make sense of their grief, getting our cheeks pinched by little old ladies who were so ecstatic that we knew which book with the red cover they were looking for, and the smiles & little "thank you's" from toddlers who got their own bag with their own book inside. We relished buying someone a cup of coffee while we tackled their holiday book list, turning a Big Box Shopper into an Indie Supporter, and the challenge of finding a rare book through a long internet search. Author events, no matter how big or small, were always full of surprises & challenges and always made for the best stories.

For many of us, we saw our work family more than our real family and those bonds are just as strong as if we shared blood. We have found best friends, future bridesmaids & godparents, sounding boards, character references, and lifelong soulmates in each other. We have laughed, cried, yelled at and with each other. We have conspired with each other, collaborated on projects, and cooked for each other. We loved each other and turned that affection on our store to the tune of a 25% increase in top-line book sales, and a 10% increase in overall top-line store sales in a year when the critics declared death on the book industry. Ebooks, Kindles, and Amazon did not kill our spirit or our bookstore. In fact, they motivated us to do everything we could to control every bottom line factor. And we did. In the end, it was nothing we did or did not do as a staff that caused our closing. In the end, we went down fighting, kicking & screaming, the only way a bookstore should.

Tonite we will gather at to celebrate this year and to say goodbye to Joseph-Beth. Tonite will not, however, be a goodbye to each other. We cannot imagine dismantling this family of booksellers and friends and we are determined to not let losing our bookstore translate into losing each other. Bowling parties, happy hours, and potluck dinners will be a part of our future. We've made plans to visit each other at our new places of business and we started a Facebook group to stay in touch.

Tonite, we will take comfort in the death of our bookstore by celebrating the afterlife of our friendships.


Ray said...

I am so sorry to hear that your book store is closing. Even though I do not live close to it nor ever heard of your store until now, I deeply feel the loss of it.
To me a book store is a grand place of adventure and excitement for all. I love to watch the thrill of my young children as they find a new book. The loss to those that used your shop will be great of that I am sure.
Another sign of changing times, but one wonders are they for the better of USA or not?

susanalbert said...

Oh, no! So sorry to hear this, Joseph-Beth & gang! You were always hospitable to (travel-weary, crabby) authors, and you brought out the very best readers and fans. We'll miss you!

Trish Brown said...

A lovely post. It's hard to watch a bookstore die -- I've been through it, too. I'm glad you have some good friends to see you through.

Book Mama said...

What a lovely farewell. I wish you all the best and applaud your love of books. Fighting the good fight is always worthwhile, no matter the outcome.

Colleen, Bookseller. said...

"Tonite, we will take comfort in the death of our bookstore by celebrating the afterlife of our friendships."

Megan, this is SO true!! What a fun night- There will definitely have to be potlucks, etc. like you say- I can't stand to think I wouldn't see such good people again!

Beautifully true thoughts here.

Joanna M said...

Thanks Meg for bringing me to tears this morning and for giving me chills. This was beautifully written - and - so true. I really hope we stay in touch for the long haul.

Lisa said...

Sorry to hear about the book store closing!! It sounds like you will all be lifelong friends!

Rachel said...

It defintly is a sad day when bookstores close in the neighborhood.
J.K. Rowling, in her talent as a writer, made up characters that could preform majic and characters that hated majic. What she did not do is express the majic that we all have, in the bookstores that surround us.
Joseph-Beth was not just a bookstore, it was majic. Majic in the wonderful customers, cozy places to read, and always majic in the books, every single book contained majic. The people who enhabited the place carried their own majic and we shared it with the customers when they asked for suggestions, that is the majic that is gone. Today the books were packed up, next week the bookcases will be taken out, but the majic of the store already left and that is the most depressing thing of all, no more majic.
No more majic. That is it,no more majic. We are all depressed that we are closing, some people might say that we were just a bookstore and "oh well, that is life" but we were more than a bookstore. We were the store that everybody came to, we we THE bookstore. The one in the small towns that everybody always loved entering because of how cozy, relaxing and inviting the place is, that was us. We were always inviting, considerate and was the place to relax after the stressful day. That majic is gone.
The Bistro is also gone. The wonderful Bistro that allowed ladies to play Mahjong for hours. The cozy restraunt that allowed people to relax and enjoy a meal without feeling rushed but feeling welcomed and cherished. That majic is gone.
The well-played in kids department is gone. The place where the local citizens would come in and play for the evening. The place where people would enjoy spending time at, watching their kids play and not have to worry so much about the environment. That majic is gone.
The majority of the books are gone, the store is closing but we might still hold that majic despite everything. The customers hold all of the majic by just remembering how wonderful the store was and how cherished it had become in the community. The booksellers hold the majic because of our compasion and love for the books. The store might not be there but the majic that we all felt will not leave, everybody who came to the store to relax or just to find a great book to relax with will have that majic. And that is something that nobody will take.
I will be a former employee of the store, I will stop entering the place and expect to help the customers but I will never loose the majic that the store gave me. That majic will always stay with me, and with all of my adopted family members.
To everybody: keep on remembering THE bookstore, not as it is now, but as it was, when the majic flowed freely throughout the store. That will keep the majic here.