Sale closes the book on family business

CLOSING the doors of the Hardback Cafe in Summer Street has come with mixed emotions,  says owner Ashley Brown.

Mr Brown started working in the bookshop when he was just 15, when it was owned by his parents.

He said walking away was a difficult decision.

“The building has been sold and it has not been a decision we’ve made lightly,” he said.

A bookshop has been on the same site since early last century when the tiny shop The Biltonia opened its doors.

Later Mr Brown’s parents Lyn and Barry purchased the business.

Mr Brown said with the downturn in book sales, brought on by cheap books available on the internet, he made the decision to change the direction of the business.

“Eighteen months ago we reinvented ourselves to trade as a coffee shop and bookshop, but I just didn’t feel it was viable to try and reinvent ourselves again,” he said.

However, Mr Brown says he is not closing the door on opening a different version of the shop in the future.

“I already have a model in my head because children’s books, travel and coffee table books are still strong but there’s no money in other books,” he said.

Mr Brown said he wanted to take an overseas holiday and look at business trends while he was away.

“I am sure I will come back with some ideas,” he said.

Mr Brown said he would miss the regular customers and his loyal staff.

“It has been hard for everyone, making this decision, and in a way I feel like I have let them down,” he said.

“But my staff and customers have stuck with me to the end.”

Mr Brown said he was not sure what the future hold.

“It is a mixture of sadness and excitement,” he said.

The Hardback Cafe doors will close on May 4.

END OF AN ERA: Ashley Brown has made the decision to close the Hardback Cafe, bringing to an end a 30-year association with the building.  Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0419sghardback1

END OF AN ERA: Ashley Brown has made the decision to close the Hardback Cafe, bringing to an end a 30-year association with the building. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0419sghardback1

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