On April 30, the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline Village, Mass., will close its doors after 45 years. Despite a successful GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $30,000 at the start of the pandemic, the lack of foot traffic and the inability to switch to online bookselling in a meaningful way forced the closure of the 900 sq. ft. store, the area’s oldest independent children’s bookstore. “We just didn’t have the business,” owner Terri Schmitz told PW.
Schmitz made the official announcement of the upcoming closure late last week on social media, as well as through signage in the bookstore windows. But she began working with a realty company to sell the space the store occupies, a retail co-op, late last year. A new owner will take over on June 1.
A former librarian at Harvard University’s Widener Library, Schmitz purchased the Children’s Book Shop in 1985; when the building was turned into condos 10 years later, she bought the retail space. She was only the second owner of the store, following Elizabeth “Rusty” True Browder, who founded the tiny neighborhood bookstore for young children, from newborns through eighth graders, in 1977.
Under Schmitz’s tenure, the bookstore received a number of accolades, including the Women’s National Book Association Pannell Award in 2000 for best children’s bookstore, followed by a Best of Boston Award from Boston Magazine in 2002 for Best Children’s Bookstore. The Children’s Book Shop was also known for its community involvement, including an annual spring poetry contest for children in grades K–8, which Schmitz ran for 25 years ending in 2021.
The store will be missed greatly, as a number of fans noted on Facebook. Some came by the bookstore to tell her in person, like a man who stopped by early Saturday morning and said, “Thank you for all the years.”
On April 19, Schmitz is planning to begin an inventory sale. She asks that people who want to share a memory or a message contact her via email.