Summerside bookstore closing because owner can’t find suitable new space

The owner of Seaside Bookshop in Summerside, Nancy Quinn, says the independent store will be closing at the end of May.  (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

The owner of Seaside Bookshop in Summerside, Nancy Quinn, says the independent store will be closing at the end of May. (Brian Higgins/CBC – image credit)

A long-time independent bookstore in downtown Summerside is closing its doors for good next month.

Seaside Bookshop has been a fixture on Water Street for more than 30 years, but it received an eviction notice in December.

The building’s new owner operates Jewelery Plus, the business next door, and wants to expand it into the bookstore’s space.

“It is sad to see such a place close,” said Seaside’s owner, Nancy Quinn, who has run the business for the past five years. Before that, it was Avonlea Bookstore.

“When I was looking at moving somewhere else, one of the things I wanted to do was to be in an environment that really supported businesses. I have hope for the future because the mayor indicated that reinventing and revitalizing the downtown area is important — but the truth is, I can’t wait for that to happen.”

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Quinn said she feels the independent organization Downtown Summerside is not holding as many events to promote downtown retailers, and “a lot of the assets like our lighting and our benches seem to have left the downtown” over the years.

“All of those things combined made me decide that while I could pay a heftier rent, it probably wasn’t really worth it for me.”

One thing that did not contribute to her decision to shut down? COVID-19.

Tony Davis/CBC

Tony Davis/CBC

“The pandemic drove people to spend time on their own, and one of the things they did was turn to reading. And especially during the Atlantic bubble, I had a very busy summer,” Quinn said.

“But of course, it’s been a challenge for business as a whole, and I think that has made an impact as well as downtown.”

So the store will be closing at the end of May. Quinn is planning a closeout sale starting Monday, April 17. And she said in a news release Thursday that she plans to leave the province after things are wrapped up.

Expansion for next-door business

Philip Sullivan is Quinn’s new landlord, who issued the eviction notice because he is expanding the engraving side of Jewelery Plus.

“We have two laser engraving machines and they are definitely going over there,” he said of the extra square footage. “I may even move my goldsmith over there, too. He’s at the front of the store here now, but he’s kind of tight for space.”

Brian Higgins/CBC

Brian Higgins/CBC

Sullivan said he regretted that Quinn had decided to get out of the book business rather than move on to her shop.

“I wasn’t excited about telling her she had to leave, but I know there are some other empty spaces in the downtown core. But my understanding is she’s decided not to move, maybe just to close up shop.”

The City of Summerside says the number of retailers in the downtown core has risen by 15 per cent over the past four years — and more and more people are choosing to live downtown.

Meanwhile, in Kensington…

As well as planning a closing sale, Seaside Bookshop has donated about 500 of its books to a new independent bookstore in Kensington that will be run by a former employee of Quinn’s.

Seaside Books.

Seaside Books.

Daisy Mae Books is set to open May 1. Quinn said she knows a bit of how brand-new bookstore owner Meghan Skerry must be feeling.

“We are in it because we love the books, because we care about them, because we believe that reading from a book when you can do it is very, very important.”

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