Ninth Street Bookstore to close March 31

Dwindling sales and high rent lead owner to close the downtown shop.
Friday, January 26, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:08 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It’s nearly the end of the story for Ninth Street Bookstore. The downtown Columbia bookseller will close its doors for good on March 31.

“A combination of things, but primarily lack of sales” led to the decision to close the business, said Jerry Crowley, vice president of Crowley Distributing Inc., the Jefferson City-based company that owns the bookstore.

Low sales, high rent and many retail shops with a lack of parking spaces downtown were other contributing factors, Crowley said Thursday.

He said the business possibly could have remained at 11 S. Ninth St. if Crowley Distributing owned the entire building. The company has five other bookstores in Missouri, but it has no plans to open another store in Columbia, Crowley said. The company realizes that a lot of book lovers in Columbia will be affected by the move, but they can’t afford to stay, he said.

Customer and MU student Derek Hartford of St. Louis said while shopping Thursday that he likes local shops because they offer a certain charm that large bookstore chains don’t.

The bookstore is the latest independent bookseller to announce its departure from downtown. Acorn Books, which sells used books, will make its exit from 211 S. Ninth St. by July 30. That building, which also houses the Missouri Theatre, is being renovated by the Missouri Symphony.

Acorn Books owner Ken Green said he hasn’t made any definite decision regarding relocating in downtown Columbia.

However, the store does sell its books online and has two other locations in Columbia with 15,000 books at each location, Green said.

Columbia Books moved from its Ninth Street location in March 2006 to a new location at 309 S. Providence Road .

Crowley said large corporations, such as Target and Barnes and Noble, are taking over most of the book and toy business in Columbia. “The little guy is getting shoved aside,” he said.

Annette Kolling-Buckley, owner of Columbia Books, agrees.

“It’s sad ... if you go anywhere these (independent) bookstores are vanishing all the time,” she said.

Buckley credits her move with the ability to keep her business going. “I’ve had more visibility and parking for customers from this (Providence Road ) location,” she said. She had been at the Ninth Street location for 29 years.

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