Bookshop's story, decades in the making, nears the end

Anthony Wilson Image
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Well-known Chapel Hill bookstore closing
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Well-known Chapel Hill bookstore closing

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Book lovers really enjoy browsing in a store where the selections include rare books or great works of the past at a discount. They'll find both inside the Bookshop of Chapel Hill, which is very close to the final chapter of its three-decade-long run on Franklin Street.

The big draw on Saturday was a 70 percent off every book in the store sale, as long as you spent at least $20. That was enough of a bargain to attract bibliophiles like Todd Whitmer, a visitor from Pennsylvania who waited patiently outside before the Bookshop opened at 11 a.m.

"It's a great store," Whitmer told ABC11. He also said he started shopping there about eight years ago while visiting Chapel Hill relatives. "I'm sorry to see it go, really sorry to see it go."

The store's current owner, Eric Johnson, bought it about ten years ago. He owns other bookstores, one in California, and brought some new ideas to Chapel Hill that he hoped would grow his clientele while maintaining the atmosphere his regulars appreciate. But then, he said, he realized "that it just wasn't enough to justify keeping it going. The building's also being sold. We don't make enough to justify a move."

His novel idea: Give away all the books that remain after his deeply discounted sale on Saturday. Sunday and Monday are the days when book lovers can haul away as many free books as they can fit inside boxes and their cars.

"Kind of like a thank you for all the customers who've come in over the years," said Johnson. "Just go ahead and take whatever you want. Hopefully they'll be able to enjoy that experience as a goodbye."

Whitmer had a good buy on Saturday. The 70 percent discount netted him many choices for the $80 or so that he spent. He can't stick around for the giveaway days because he's driving back to his Pennsylvania home with his wife and a car full of books. But if you're also a book lover with room on your shelves for freebees, the Bookshop of Chapel Hill's remaining books are available at no charge, Sunday and Monday only. Doors close for the last time on 400 West Franklin Street at 7 Monday evening.