Merchants issue rallying cry

 

Merchants issue rallying cry

 

Date: August 18, 2009
by: Robin Roy | City Editor

 
 

The imminent closure of Sarasota News and Books is leading downtown merchants to hold a rally this weekend at the Downtown Farmers Market, designed to support local shops and restaurants.

“Everybody is so riled up over Sarasota News and Books,” said Wendy Getchell, president of the Downtown Sarasota Merchants Association and owner of Lotus.

Scheduled to attend the rally, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, is Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key. Getchell and Sarasota News and Books co-owner Andrew Foley will also speak
to try to persuade residents to shop and dine in local stores and restaurants.

Getchell said there was an outpouring of support this past week for Sarasota News and Books, when word began circulating that it may close.

Foley confirmed Tuesday that the bookstore’s last day of business will be Aug. 31.

For the past two weeks, he had been trying to negotiate lower lease terms to help him cope with the faltering economy. He is currently paying more than $12,000 a month for his 4,740-square-feet retail
space on Main Street.

The landlord, Randall Bono, was willing to reduce that to $9,875 per month, which equates to $25 per square foot, but Foley said that was not low enough to allow him to stay in business.

“I don’t think he’s trying to gouge us,” Foley said. “He just wasn’t willing to go as low as we needed.”
Bono did not return messages seeking comment. He has also stopped returning Foley’s calls.

“He may already be close to signing another tenant,” Foley said. “We are devastated. Two weeks ago, we didn’t think it was going to come to this.”

In the face of flagging book sales, Foley had been altering his business plan. With the blessing of his landlord, Foley had architectural drawings made that increased the size of his café and shrunk the area with books, magazines and greeting cards.

He also had been working with the city for nearly a year on a plan to create more outdoor table space along Palm Avenue. But, unless his landlord changes his mind, all those plans will end.

But, the closing of Foley’s current Main Street location may not be end of Sarasota News and Books.

Foley said several property owners have approached him about relocating his bookstore to their available space.

“We are keeping all our options open,” he said.

In the meantime, Foley wants all the people who have offered him help to keep his store open to put that energy into supporting other downtown shops. Saturday’s rally is a step in that direction.

Said Foley: “We hope this concern for the local economy goes to good use.”

Contact Robin Roy at rroy@yourobserver.com.

 

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Currently 5 Responses

  • 1.
  • I guess it's fitting that a store which posted a "vote for Obama" sign is now the victim of Obama's and the Democratic Party's destruction of the housing market and thus the overall economy. Maybe the owners should contact their fearless, forked tongue leader and ask for a bailout.
    Sometimes you get what you deserve. Ain't justice sweet!
  •  
  • Milan Adrian
    Thu 20th Aug 2009
    at 6:04pm
  • 2.
  • My wife and I start our day with coffee and a newspaper at Sarasota News and Books whenever we are in town from Grosse Pointe, MI. Sarasota News and Books is one of the special places that gives Sarasota its character. It will be difficult to replace.
  •  
  • Bradley Birch
    Thu 20th Aug 2009
    at 12:38pm
  • 3.
  • It breaks my heart to hear that Andrew and Meghan have to close Sarasota News & Books. I don't think Wayne Barcomb overstated it when he called them a landmark. It definitely is and having them leave will drastically change the dynamics of that downtown location. I only hope that Andrew and Meghan find a new place to set up shop AND that this wake up call inspires support for them and other downtown businesses. Wherever they go, we'll follow.
    Hey Andrew, we still need a bookstore/coffee shop in Lakewood Ranch.
  •  
  • Lisa Rubinstein
    Wed 19th Aug 2009
    at 6:28pm
  • 4.
  • The end of a landmark ... downtown will never be the same ... what a shame. Just keep the parking meters coming and maybe we can rent the downtown out to the movie companies as a ghost town !!! Hugh Fiore, St. Armands
  •  
  • Hugh Fiore Jr.
    Wed 19th Aug 2009
    at 2:48pm
  • 5.
  • The closing of Sarasota News and Books will be the end of a Sarasota landmark. Landmark may be an overstatement, but in the relatively short number of years the store has been here, it has truly become a familiar and friendly part of our downtown landscape. The store, with it's outdoor tables and inviting atmosphere has created a certain cache' for that part of Main Street. The store will be sorely missed unless it can somehow be rescued. Wayne Barcomb
  •  
  • wayne barcomb
    Wed 19th Aug 2009
    at 11:27am
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