World Eye's Florence satellite store set to close Saturday
RECORDER FILE PHOTO Karen Wendler and Debran Brocklesby, staff at the World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield, talk recently about opening a new store in Florence. PAUL FRANZ (2012)
NORTHAMPTON — After two years selling books on North Main Street in Florence, the World Eye Bookshop is closing Saturday, though its Greenfield store remains alive and well.
Jessica Mullins, owner of Greenfield’s World Eye Bookshop, in operation for more than 45 years in that city’s downtown center, opened a second store in Florence in space near the thriving Cup and Top Cafe in October of 2012. She said Cup and Top owner Helen Kahn suggested she set up shop in the storefront next door.
Mullins said that seemed like a good idea because the cafe had done a survey which indicated Florence residents wanted a book store.
In the end, though, Mullins said the foot traffic in Florence was not enough to make a go of it.
“Cup and Top asked us to come so we tried it and there’s no hard feelings,” said Mullins, 39, who lives in Vermont, but grew up in Greenfield. “I don’t regret trying it. I think it was worth a shot but there just wasn’t the base.”
She said she had been considering closing the store, and decided to do so when the lease came up for renewal in September.
“I’m sad because it was nice having the two locations,” she said.
Mullins said she felt she gave the shop enough time to determine whether it could be a viable endeavor, tracking sales and days of the week and seasons of the business cycle, but ultimately decided there just wasn’t enough business and it likely wouldn’t pick up.
“A lot of our sales are foot traffic and repeat customers,” she said. “I think in Florence there just isn’t enough foot traffic.”
She said her mother, Debran Brocklesby, was the main employee in the Florence store for about the past 10 months, so the closing will be hard on her, though she will take a different position in the Greenfield shop.
“She loved it. She made a lot of friends,” said Mullins.
Meanwhile, the Greenfield store, which employs seven people including full- and part-time staff, is thriving.
“We’re a book store; we’re a gift shop; we’re a customer service store, and we are an anchor store in Greenfield,” she said. The store is open seven days a week.
She said while owning an independent bookshop is not easy, neither is it as dire as some make it out to be.
“I think publishing companies are doing amazing things right now to help independent bookstores,” she said. For example, she noted that some major publishers are offering credits to bookstores to try out new titles with good displays, and will take them back if they don’t sell, to remove the fear of having too much inventory.
“That gives you a little bit of wiggle room and you can play the field,” in terms of book selection, she noted.
The Valley Community Development Corp. owns the 1 North Main St. building that houses Cup and Top and World Eye on the first floor. Mullins said as far as she knows, no tenants have been lined up to fill the space. Efforts to reach the Valley CDC and Home City Housing, the property management firm that oversees the building, for comment were unsuccessful Thursday.