Sitka Books & Art to be Vancouver's new independent bookstore

VANCOUVER, July 5 /CNW/ - Sitka Books & Art Ltd. announced today the planned opening of its flagship store Sitka Books & Art on West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano. Sitka Books & Art will be Vancouver's largest independent full-service bookstore filling the void that the closing of Duthie Books created. Sitka Books & Art will carry a full complement of books and local arts & crafts. The planned grand opening will be in late August.

Bucking the trend of traditional bookstores closing their doors, Sitka Books & Art will be committed to supporting Vancouver's rich literary and cultural community and to providing Vancouver's readers a warm, welcoming place to explore books and meet authors. The e-commerce market and the digitization of reading material will NOT replace books; in fact, it will encourage more consumers to read and appreciate the written word.

"The printed book is not dead," said Ria Bleumer, co-owner and manager of Sitka Books. "Demand for a high-service bookstore where customers can find new books, explore new subjects and exchange ideas and opinions is as high or higher than ever before. We will provide that place and I believe it is a vital part of this city's cultural community."

Readers still want to see, feel and experience the written word on paper. They appreciate the social and cultural event of shopping for books in a bookstore. A quality, high-service independent bookstore with an experienced staff in a good location can carve out a profitable niche market. Sitka Books & Art will have a competitive advantage over its competition.

"I keep getting stopped on the street by former customers, many in tears, bemoaning the closing of Duthie Books," Bleumer said. She added that "Vancouverites are big readers, they appreciate the feel, the smell and the art of a good book and they will support a local, independent bookstore."

She is not alone in that opinion. Nancy Richler, a local author, commented, "I was very happy to hear that Ria Bleumer plans to open a new independent bookstore. I don't doubt that it will play an important role in the local literary scene, and I know Ms. Bleumer has the experience and commitment to pull it off."

Bleumer managed Duthie Books for sixteen years and when the owners decided to close its doors last February, she saw a huge opportunity. Acting quickly, Bleumer and her business partner Karel Carnohan put together a business plan, began looking for space and applied for financing. With a group of equity investors, the partners obtained additional financing and were fortunate to take over retail space just down the street from the former Duthie location. The West 4th Ave. Book Warehouse location was planning to close and Sitka Books took over its space. The store will be renovated in July and August and stocked with books and local arts and crafts for a targeted late August opening.

Increasing lease costs in the area have forced many retail operations to close, including Duthie Books. Bleumer commented that Duthie Books was selling a large volume of books, even during difficult economic times, but the rent kept rising and its owners decided to close.

"Supposedly, the onslaught of e-books, big-box stores and large chains are forcing independent bookstores out of business," Bleumer said. "Duthie Books competed quite well with Chapters and Amazon; they have been around for years," she added. Books sold on-line make up a small portion of the overall market, although their share is increasing. Sitka Books management recognized the trend to buy local and the increasing backlash against the large chains.

"Customers are screaming for a personal touch and appreciate experienced, well-informed book-selling staff," said Bleumer. "Sitka Books will have the best in the business."

Sitka Books & Art management's goals include active involvement in community and cultural events, hosting author readings, book tables and special events. It will also diversify its product line by selling arts and crafts from local artists.

"We have incredible support from the community and the book industry," said Bleumer. "They all want us to succeed and with everyone's help, succeed we will. Read local!"

SOURCE SITKA BOOKS & ART LTD.

For further information: For further information: Ria Bleumer, President, 604-689-2576

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SITKA BOOKS & ART LTD.

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