For more than 90 years, Thee Bookstore has been a fixture on Hillsboro’s Main Street, a place to buy gifts and Christian books and supplies. But on Saturday, owner Brenda Hamm will close the doors for good.
“I don’t come in every day, but it has always been a very good place to come to get special gifts,” customer Marlene Kroeker said Tuesday. “It was so nice to have the availability of cards here in town.”
Despite a steady stream of customers this past week, Hamm said it was unrealistic for her to sustain business any longer, though she loved everything about what she does at the store.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people. I love the retail part of it. Being part of the business community here has been a good thing,” she said. “But I have come to a point where I had to make a necessary ending. I’m not quite sure it has all set in yet, but we needed to do this.”
Hamm said changes in technology and culture made it difficult to make ends meet and continue the services offered at Thee Bookstore.
“I just can’t compete with online prices,” she said. “We are just a little company, we can’t compete with the big guys out there price-wise, and we just don’t have enough customers here.”
Hamm said she recently read a book that helped her express her feelings about the changes her business underwent in the past few years as the economy weakened, and fewer people had disposable income to spend.
“I really identified with the thought that hope gives us courage to take risks, but the reality becomes that we are hoping for something that just can’t happen,” she said. “In these economic times, I think a lot of small town businesses are really questioning if we can make it with shrinking populations and advances in technology that make us obsolete.”
Hamm said a book signing planned for 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday would be the final event at the store, with doors closing on final sales on Saturday.
“I would continue if I could,” Hamm said. “But it just not realistic anymore and I am thankful for the opportunity to help another business in town by selling now.”
Stuart and Lea Isaac, owners of the Supreme Floor Company just across the street, purchased the bookstore building and plan to remodel the facility before moving over in August.
“We are under no pressure to hurry,” Lea Isaac said. “We are very excited to gain additional floor space where we can have more displays, actual flooring choices on the floor, and kitchen counter-top exhibits.”
Hamm said Little Pleasures, the adjoining restaurant in the same building, would continue to operate at its current location.