(Photo added 9:31 am – the letter is posted on the Square One storefront door)
The one-week closure announced by Square One Books in Jefferson Square has turned out to be permanent. Square One’s Gretchen Montgomery made the announcement this morning, asking us to share this letter with you:
I want to let all of my wonderful customers know that Square One Books is closing. I am greatly saddened to have to do this to our West Seattle community of booklovers who have been supporting the store for nearly 23 years. One of the hardest parts of the closing is that I have been unable to let you all know in advance. I wanted to be able to tell all of you and at least have had a closing sale where we could all reminisce and say our goodbyes.
Unfortunately, on the advice of my lawyer, I was unable to do this. I needed to close the store promptly, which meant not be able to say anything to you all when you expressed concern and asked if we were ok.
For the almost 8 years that I have owned the store, I have been trying my hardest to keep the store afloat. Many factors disadvantaged us: the opening of the Westwood Barnes and Noble, increased online purchasing, books being sold everywhere at steep discounts, the economy, high rent, and the recent trend toward e-books.
For years I have taken no salary and have personally taken on more financial debt to keep the store going. I cannot continue to struggle to pay my bills and to be constantly consumed with stress due to my situation. As much as I love the bookstore and my customers, owning the bookstore was no longer good for my mental health, my family and my financial state.
We have had the store for sale for 1.5 years, and while many people want to own a bookstore, there was no interest in purchasing a store with the overhead costs we are carrying at this location. I believe that a new, independent bookstore is needed in West Seattle and that one could succeed in a more favorable spot. I wish I could be the one to move and start again, but I cannot, and I hope that someone is willing to give it a try.
We, myself and my staff, hope to see you all around West Seattle as we have gotten to know so many of you so well over the years. We will miss our bookstore friends; you are all very special people to us. Again, I wish I could have stayed in business for you, and I thank you all for your years of support. I know you tried very hard to keep us here.
Gretchen & the Square One Books Staff
ADDED 2:39 PM: We contacted Gretchen to ask a few questions that surfaced in comments and/or were directly e-mailed to us. Here’s her reply:
I will put up info on our door about how gift cards can be handled. … I am in the process of contacting everyone personally that I had special orders for, and if people have any questions, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on our store voicemail at (206) 935-5764, and I will get back to them as soon as I can.