Brandi Schmidt, 35, a self-published novelist and book blogger, launched an Indiegogo campaign Monday to raise $15,000 by February 5 to buy Main Street Books from its current owner, Vicki Erwin. After a pending sale had fallen through late in 2013, Erwin, 62, had decided to close the 20-year-old store as of January 31, so that she could retire as she’d planned, rather than wait for another buyer to come forward. Erwin, who used to rep for Scholastic, has owned the store for almost eight years; she purchased it in 2006 and moved it to its current location, a historic district close to Missouri’s first state capitol in downtown St. Charles, a St. Louis suburb.
Schmidt, who has no previous bookselling experience, says that she is trying to put together the financing so that she can make an offer on the store, which Erwin says has “no set price; we are waiting for offers.” The inventory alone, which includes 8,000-10,000 titles, is valued at $55,000-$60,000. Erwin emphasizes that Schmidt has “looked and inquired,” but has not yet made an offer; there is no commitment to date to Schmidt or to anyone else regarding the purchase of the bookstore. “There are other people interested,” who are “further along at this point,” Erwin notes. A broker is working with Erwin in negotiating with any potential buyers who would buy the business and its inventory, plus lease the 1,800-square-foot retail space.
"Without anything firm," Erwin tells PW, she still intends to close the store on January 31. "But I'm willing to be flexible if [a buyer and she] are right in the middle of negotiations."
“I wanted to open a store in St. Charles years ago, but nothing ever panned out,” Schmidt explains. Schmidt’s Indiegogo campaign raised in its first day $1,120 from seven funders, one of whom donated $1,000.