The Book Nook says ‘goodbye’
It is with great regret that we must announce that The Book Nook will be closing its doors forever on May 31. After a nearly 45-year run, the time has come to say goodbye. It has been our honor and privilege to serve this community, but times have changed to the point where the community no longer chooses to support its own bookstore.
Our family has owned and operated a business in the D&F Plaza since 1959. The Book Nook was founded on July 1, 1968, by my parents, Philip and Louise Pelletter. The Pelletters had been one of the first Dunkirk merchants to risk moving their business from the downtown business district and into the brand-new, risky-venture of the D&F Plaza. Of course, that business was Park Shoe Store, which the Pelletters ran for many years before shifting to the book business. Since the bookstore opened on that first day in July, The Book Nook has been at the center of the D&F Plaza under the management of this family – first my parents, then my husband and me.
There are many reasons we will miss doing business here in Dunkirk-Fredonia. We did our best to provide a true small-town, friendly atmosphere. Countless patrons became friends; strangers would stop in for advice, information, or directions; and so many community members would stop in just to chat and be a part of our wonderful Dunkirk-Fredonia community.
Over the years, we changed with the times while providing what we hope have been invaluable services to our community: we were one of the first bookstores in the country to computerize (in the late ’80s); we diversified our offerings through T-shirts, telephones, magazines, Easter chocolate, greeting cards, board games, UPS shipping, faxing, and even first-run Rubik’s cubes; we provided countless book signings with authors both new and established, including (but certainly not limited to) Wendy Corsi Staub – who had her first signing with us – Marv Levy, and Roger Tory Peterson; we donated to countless charitable causes; we were leaders within the independent bookseller community, presenting classes at national conventions in Nashville and Chicago; we hired and trained numerous members of the community of seemingly all walks of life, many of whom were with us for years and with whom we still have cherished friendships and dear memories; we were one of the first bookstores in the world to begin selling “hurt” or lightly damaged books; we sold (at no profit to ourselves) Fredonia Musical tickets, Chautauqua County Fair tickets, Attic & Seller days maps, and many other non-profit organization tickets and items; and we took countless special orders – often tailor fit to the customers, even when they themselves didn’t know exactly what they were looking for.
Of course, we must answer that inevitable question: Why are we going out of business? There are many reasons, but I would like to share the root one with you as a cautionary tale for the health of our community. The main reason is this: the community has largely (though certainly not entirely) stopped supporting us by largely not shopping with us. The community has been happy to utilize our services, but does not buy our products. Amazon, Walmart and ebooks have taken the place of local bookstores in many communities, including our own. As I sit to pen this letter, I can tell you of a browser who came to our store just yesterday whom we helped to find exactly the book she was looking for, who then promptly took her Kindle out of her purse, thanked us for our time, and ordered it from her e-reader. We have become a showroom for other, particularly online, booksellers. As this continues to happen in other retail industries, we will continue to lose our (few remaining) independent businesses and our unique Dunkirk-Fredonia character.
For many, my husband and I have been the face of The Book Nook for years. In an effort to downsize and thereby preserve the business, my husband took a job this past year as the business manager at a Catholic parish and school in West Seneca, where he is happily employed today. As for me, I will be seeking work here, in the community I love. To our loyal customers who have supported us through our 45 years, my deepest, sincerest thanks. It is for you and because of you that I have held onto the dream that this bookstore represents for as long as I have. I will miss each and every one of you. Thank you.
Patricia Pelletter Donovan and Richard Donovan