In January, 82-year-old Betsy Rider put one of the country's oldest bookstores on the market, Otto Bookstore in Williamsport, Pa. Founded in 1841, the store will celebrate its 175th anniversary over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Although Rider has received inquiries from people with ties to the area, which is best known as the birthplace of Little League Baseball, a serious buyer has yet to come forward. Her asking price is $250,000.
“I’ve got a good product here and a good reputation in the area,” said Rider, who is still hoping for a sale.
For now though, Rider, who put the store on the market so that she can retire, plans to continue running the store through the end of the year. “As we get closer to the Christmas season, I think I’ll keep treading water,” she said.
Rider has already cut back her hours and works only mornings. In the afternoons, she reads and reviews books like Paulette Giles’s News of the World and Kathleen Grissom’s Glory Over Everything for Otto’s website.
If a viable buyer does not come forward by January 1, Rider said that she will sell the bookstore to her son Tom for $1. He currently manages the bookstore for his mother, and is the only one of her ten children who works at the store.
Passing the bookstore on to Tom would keep a family tradition alive--the Riders have owned Otto for over three-quarters of a century. Rider’s father, Jack Roesgen, began working at the bookstore, then called the Loan Bookshop, in 1905; he purchased it in 1940. Following his death in 1958, Rider and her mother, Margaret Roesgen, kept the store going.