This has been a banner year for The Book Stall at Chestnut Court. The Winnetka, Ill., independent is marking the 30th anniversary of Roberta Rubin buying the 75-year-old store in 1982 and, earlier this month, it was named PW’s Bookstore of the Year. A gala celebration held at the store in February, coupled with the award, have become Rubin’s swan song: she’s decided to sell the store. Rubin, 74, she she wants to travel and spend more time with family, which includes her four children and seven young grandchildren.
During an interview at the store two weeks ago, Rubin told PW that bookstore consultants Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman, of Paz & Associates, have assisted her in drafting a letter to The Book Stall’s customers, announcing her decision. The letter is scheduled to run this summer in the bookstore’s print newsletter, which is sent out monthly to 5,000 people. Rubin had been planning to announce the decision earlier this spring, but being named bookstore of the year preempted the announcement.
While Rubin has discussed selling the store to a few investors already, nothing has panned out. "When you look at the bottom line as an investment, unh unh. You have to want to work here. I think I can put a marriage together of someone who wants to run a bookstore and have an investor. Although," she adds, "I am going to just throw it out and say the bookstore is for sale and see what happens."
Rubin hopes to sell the bookstore by summer 2013, and intends to ease the transition process by introducing the buyer to her many publishing industry contacts.
Rubin is putting The Book Stall on the market while the store is riding a wave of prosperity caused by Borders’s bankruptcy, coupled with a reviving economy. During the 2008-2009 recession, sales dropped 15% from 2007’s $2.5 million in gross revenues. This past year, however, revenues popped back up, with $2.4 million gross revenues in 2011. With January sales up 45% and February up 35%, Rubin projects sales to peak at $2.7 million in 2012.
The store, a fixture in the affluent North Shore area, is renowned throughout Chicagoland for its extensive community outreach and programming. The Book Stall sponsors over 450 events each year, both in-store and offsite.