Otto Bookstore in Williamsport, Pa., one of the oldest continuously operating bookstores in the U.S., is on the market. Owner Betsy Rider, age 81, told PW that after a fall in December she’s ready to retire.
“Enough is enough,” Rider said. “Christmas was brutal.” She found it difficult to keep up with special orders and the day-to-day operation of the store, which saw a slight decline in sales in 2015. Even now, during the quiet season, Rider said it’s “overwhelming” to be at the store every day.
Although Rider has considered closing Otto, she doesn’t want to desert her customers or her staff. She approached a local developer to take over the 2,000 sq. ft. bookstore, which is located in the birthplace of Little League Baseball. She also declined an offer, which would require her to continue to work, from one of her 10 children.
The store, which turns 175 this year, has been connected to the Rider family for over a hundred years. Rider’s father, Jack Roesgen, began working there in 1905 and bought the business in 1940. Rider began running the store with her mother after his death in 1958.
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