Main Street Books in St. Charles, Mo. is closing its doors on January 31, 2014, co-owner Vicki Erwin, 62, announced in an e-mail sent to her customers and a separate one sent to publishers' reps on Monday afternoon. The decision, she wrote to the reps, was “not based on economics but on a desire to spend more time with our family and to travel” now that Erwin’s husband, Jim, who co-owns the store and is in charge of its financials, has retired from practicing law. In an e-mail to PW, Erwin explains that the store is solvent, and that she has been trying to sell the store for the past two years. When an anticipated sale fell through, Erwin decided not to wait for another buyer to come forward, but to start closing the store down with a “retirement sale” after the holidays. All backorders are cancelled as of Dec. 24.
The store will remain open only if a viable buyer comes forward within the next month, Erwin adds.
Main Street Books has been in business in downtown St. Charles, a St. Louis suburb, since 1993. Erwin, a former publishers' rep for Scholastic, has owned it since 2006. After purchasing the store from its previous owner, Mary Fran Rash, Erwin moved it to an 1,800-square-foot location in the center of St. Charles’ historic downtown district, which is a tourist destination, as it played a significant role in the U.S.' westward expansion. The store, a full-service, general-interest bookstore, carries 8,000-10,000 titles, and has a strong children’s section.
“I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for us the past 20 years (and especially the last 7 ½ that we have owned the business),” Erwin wrote to the publishers’ reps, “In that time, we almost doubled our sales and definitely expanded our reach into the community,”
It’s been a period of transition in the Greater St. Louis bookselling world these past 12 months: Pudd’nhead Books in Webster Groves shut its doors almost exactly a year ago, on Dec. 31, 2012, and The Book House was evicted from its previous space this past fall; it has since moved into a new space a few miles away that its owner, Michelle Barron, is in the midst of renovating in stages as she raises money to finance the renovations.