The Book Stall, the last used bookstore in Norman, is closing in July after 44 years because of declining sales.
While its closing date is undecided, owner Susan Townly and manager Rick Hall said they will be shutting the doors after they liquidate their remaining inventory.
“It’s never enough money; it’s never enough readers,” Hall said.
The Book Stall has offered affordable prices for used books and magazines, Townly said. The store was originally founded by Rick Hall’s uncle, Dale Hall, so he could spread his passion for learning and reading.
“I wanted his legacy to live on, and it’s a shame to watch it die,” Townly said.
Townly and Hall think the younger generation doesn’t read because cellphones and other technology has “overpowered” books. Both say they have invested personal funds in the business, but can’t sustain it any longer.
“We’ve been trying to keep this place going, but we can’t compete with cellphones,” Hall said.
The store at 300 W. Main St. is sandwiched between a vapor shop and a health store. While the stores around them see a younger clientele, Hall said that customer base has not ventured into The Book Stall. After multiple newspaper ads and creating a Facebook page, The Book Stall couldn’t afford to advertise anymore. For the store’s owners, it’s hard not to take the decline in business personally.
“We’ve tried everything, but Norman has made it clear they don’t want us here,” Hall said.
“Nothing seems to pull readers in, we can’t even fight anymore.”
Since the store announced it would close, Hall said people have been very supportive and have lots of good wishes, but it’s not enough to keep the store going.
“People say they’ll pray for us, but prayers don’t pay the bills,” Hall said.
Nineteen-year-old Chelcia Espinosa stopped by the store this week to pick up a book after doing a Google search for used bookstores. She said she wanted an affordable alternative to chain bookstores and their prices.
“Barnes & Noble is too expensive, and I like to read so I come here,” Espinosa said. She purchased a novel before leaving.
For Hall, the store closing means he will have to find a part-time job doing something else. He said he will continue to read as much as he can – but actual, physical books, never e-books.
“We are just overpowered by technology, it’s ridiculous,” Hall said.