Betsey Detwiler, the 79-year-old owner of Buttonwood Books & Toys in Cohasset, Mass., is about to retire. After running the store for nearly two and a half decades, she will be leaving it in good hands: a family member and the mother of a former employee.
Detwiler's daughter-in-law, Katherine Detwiler, who worked for her as a toy buyer after the store opened in October 1989, will be one of the new owners. The other owner-to-be, Arna Lewis, teaches fifth grade in Cohasset and also has a tie to the store – her daughter worked for Detwiler when she was in high school. All three women have been waiting for the school year to end to finalize the purchase. Detwiler anticipates that the sale of the 3,600 sq. ft. store will be completed early next month.
For Detwiler, selling the store to people she knows – her daughter-in-law and Lewis both live in the neighboring town of Scituate – is ideal. "I really wanted [the store] to stay an asset to the community," she said, noting that one potential buyer expressed interest in moving the store from its current location to a busy highway next to a grocery store.
The sale came together somewhat suddenly, and coincided with Detwiler's daughter-in-law coming back on as a staff member in March. In addition to working at Buttonwood, Katherine Detwiler has also been director of a shelter workshop program. Once the store changes hands, the current staff of six will stay on.
Detwiler, who had careers in cancer research and education before becoming a bookseller, is looking forward to retirement, which will include singing, traveling, painting, spending time with her grandchildren, and taking care of her mentally challenged son, Christopher. “I could be fooling myself,” she said. “I know perfectly well when I pack up my things it will be bittersweet.”