Big Hat Books, the only general, full-service independent bookstore in Indianapolis dedicated to new books, is closing its doors within the next week so that its owner, Elizabeth Houghton Barden, can “deal with health issues.” Barden, who was in a car accident several years ago, plans to use the time off to also “reimagine the business.” To that end, Barden is looking for a new retail space for Big Hat, which is currently housed in a 2,700-square-foot, two-story space in Indy’s Broad Ripple neighborhood; the store's five-year lease is almost up.
“I’m moving yet again,” Barden told PW, “Every five years I make some kind of a change.”
Barden opened Big Hat 10 years ago this October in a 1,125-foot retail space, then, in 2009, moved the business to its current location.
“I don’t have the perfect space to move into and Indianapolis [weather] is brutal between January and March,” she explained, noting that her full-time employee, and a part-time employee, are remaining on staff during the transition. The full-time employee will create an updated website and ramp up the store's social media presence, while the part-time employee will research the corporations, schools, and other local organizations that Big Hat might want to partner with after it re-opens at an undetermined date.
“It may be four weeks, it may be eight weeks,” Barden said, “I don’t know. I haven’t started looking for a new space yet.”
Barden emphasized that the decision to temporarily close had little to do with sales: although she could not provide figures, she described sales this year as "comparable" to last year, which was "way up" from the year before. Sales during the recent holidays, she said, were good, and have been strong for the "past two or three Christmases," as more and more people consciously shop local and as the economy has improved.
But Big Hat is “going small,” Barden says, to take advantage of the “incredible resurgence” that small bookshops are currently enjoying in the marketplace. "I'm going to take a moment and breathe and think about where the book business is going," she said.
Barden informed her regular customers via email on Thursday that she is temporarily closing the store and that she is holding a sale for them through Sunday that is not being advertised anywhere else, “not on Facebook, not even a sign on the shop door,” she told PW.