The staff of a West End bookshop is hoping its owner’s retirement isn’t the last chapter of the company’s 40-year run.
Book People, a new and used book store at 536 Granite Ave., has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000 to renovate the shop and pass the business on to employees as owner Ruth Erb prepares to retire at yearend.
Erb opened the bookstore in 1980. Staff began planning for Erb’s retirement about two years ago as they didn’t want the shop to close. But now, store manager David Shuman, who’s leading the effort, said a crowdfunding failure could mean the end of the business.
“It’s renovate or else,” Shuman said.
Book People is packed with more than 20,000 books on shelves reaching the ceiling. Its building, constructed in 1946, needs new flooring, track lighting, shelving, paint, a new sales counter and a point-of-sale computer system.
“We literally have to gut the store,” Shuman said.
The crowdfunding campaign, hosted on Indiegogo, also would cover expenses to keep the business afloat while the store is closed during renovations, including storing the mounds of books.
The campaign was launched Dec. 6 and runs for 30 days. As of Monday afternoon, Book People had raised $3,425 of its goal. Indiegogo’s platform allows users to keep money raised even if the minimum is not met.
“I have hope,” Shuman said. “Big box (book store) sales are down and independents are up. I think it’s fueled by the whole ‘shop local’ movement.”
Erb said she’s happy to pass her business onto her team of employees who share her passion for books. Shuman, who’s worked in bookstores all his life, said he’s glad to try saving the Richmond institution at the corner of Patterson and Granite avenues.
“It’s exciting to be able to try to keep it going. She’s put her heart and soul into it,” Shuman said of Erb.
Around the corner from Book People, a local record label recently found its home. In October, 6131 Records moved into the former Ledbury shop at 5710 Patterson Ave.