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Spate of Indie Closings
Judith Rosen -- 6/12/00
Although the pace of such events has trailed off from the mid-'90s, a recent series of store closing notices serves as a reminder that despite the distracting growth of online retailing and electronic publishing, certain dynamics are still playing out in the old-fashioned retail world.

The five-year-old Mt. Kisco Book Co., Mt. Kisco, N.Y., which survived a disastrous fire but couldn't quite beat competition from the Internet and a Borders that opened down the street in 1997, closed May 31.

Founded after the closing of Sutherland & Fox, the longtime Mt. Kisco bookstore, Mt. Kisco Book Co. had been in business just six months when a fire destroyed its building on November 25, 1996. The store relocated within weeks. But the next year, a Borders opened around the corner. That and Amazon.com hurt sales, according to owner Irwin Hersch, a partner in Coliseum Books in New York City. Hersch plans to open an antiques shop in nearby Bedford Hills, N.Y., according to the Journal News.

One of the last independents in Omaha, Neb., Ketterson's Old Market Bookstore, closed May 31. Co-owner Andy Ketterson told the Omaha World-Herald that the store began losing money in the past year and blamed, in part, the arrival of Barnes & Noble and Borders. The store is one of the co-plaintiffs in the ABA lawsuit against the two chains. Ketterson's was founded in 1983 as Combs & Ketterson's. It was renamed in 1989 after Ketterson bought out his partner. Among the stores that have closed in the area in the last five years: Combs & Combs, the Bookhouse, Village Bookstore, Baker Square Books and several Little Professor Book Centers.

Finally, A Novel Approach, the 25-year-old independent in Tuscaloosa, Ala., closed May 31, reportedly because of on-line competition. In a letter to customers and others, owners Benson and Cathy Bolling said "Continued decreases in sales volume have made it impossible to continue in business." The store has an informational Web site (www.anovelapproach.com) that the Bollings are in the process of changing to an e-commerce site; it should open in a month or two. First name? Bolling told PW: "It's the Internet that's killing us. So I figure why not join them? The overhead will be far more amenable."
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