PUTNEY -- Ever since the owner of Putney Books announced that she would be closing her store in March 2010, a group of residents has been working to open another bookstore.
Since then, the citizen committee has held meetings and tried to encourage the idea of starting a cooperatively or collectively run store.
Over that time, interest has gone up and down, and now, more than two years after the bookstore in Putney closed, the committee is once again trying to keep the dream alive.
Laura Heller, who has been involved with the bookstore committee from the start, said the group has an understanding with a property owner in town and needs to make a decision about whether now is a good time to open a small bookstore in Putney.
She would not say which property is being considered.
"Right now we want people to be talking about this," she said. "We’re moving faster. We’re going from not moving, to crawling, but we are moving."
The committee is in the process of distributing questionnaires around town to see if there is interest in supporting an independent bookstore.
Heller said the committee might ultimately be looking for investors, though she said at this point they would also like to see if there is support for the plan.
"We’re a little committee, and we want to know the feelings of more people in town," Heller said. "We have to make a decision."
When the bookstore closed in 2010, a
Now a few new people have joined the committee, including some with experience, and Heller said there is once again interest in moving forward.
If the committee is successful, it will be the fourth attempt at bringing a bookstore to Putney in about 20 years.
John Smith and Rosemary Ladd opened Heartstone Books in 1994 in its original Main Street location and then moved to the Putney Tavern building three years later.
They sold the business to Caryl Richardson in 2003, and when Richardson announced that she would be closing, the Preservation Trust of Vermont helped Sarah Baker open a store in the Tavern building with the help of local investors.
Baker’s store closed in 2010.
According to Heller, bringing another bookstore to town would be as much about helping in the revitalization of Putney as it would be a way to bring a return to investors.
She said that independent bookstores last year saw an increase in sales and shoppers are looking to support local businesses over chains and Internet companies.
After more than two years of floating the idea, Heller says it might be time to either commit to the plan or decide to turn the page.
"We’re not sure what way we’re going to go," Heller said. "If we fail, we fail, but I’m optimistic. I think we should try it."
Questionnaires for the bookstore idea will be available at Putney businesses and at the Putney Library in the coming days.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279