In a newsletter issued at the end of August, Scott Givens, owner of the beloved peculiar Browsers’ Bookstore, announced his decision to close both Corvallis and Albany stores by the end of February, 2022. For the remaining six months, Givens has urged store lovers and frequenters to spread the word, use the rest of their store credit, shop ‘till their shelves are stocked, and “enjoy the browsing while it lasts.”
Whether for its eclectic selection, friendly and comforting feel, or labyrinthine shelves that appear to be in a perpetual state of overflow with used and old books, Browsers’ has offered a unique shopping experience for book lovers locally and throughout Oregon — and the window is closing for people to get the full Browsers’ experience for the last time.
Some of the immediate changes taking place? Browsers’ will no longer be ordering used or out-of-print books — instead, new books will continue to be ordered through the end of the year, and can still be purchased using store credit. The usual over-the-counter buying will proceed for now, but will eventually be limited, so prospective book sellers should bring in their best books now while the time is ripe. In addition, while store merchandise will remain regularly priced for the next two or three months, flash sales, limited-time specials, and broad-discount sales are bound to occur; announcements will be available on the store’s newsletter and Facebook page, so be sure to check those regularly.
As far as bookselling goes, Givens has requested that people not bring in books that are in bad condition — children’s books, especially, need to be nearly impeccable — nor books that have been rejected by other bookstores. Shoppers should take back with them any books that Browsers’ doesn’t accept, put on masks before entering the building, and keep their masks on the entire time — and not argue with staff about the masks. All of the above will help staff save time and energy — and, of course, help ensure that they’re being treated with respect.
Givens has also asked that shoppers be extra supportive of staff. One way to do this is by tipping them; all employees have their own credit accounts, and they, too, have books that they would like to take home. And Givens has enjoyed working with each of them.
“Each employee comes with my high and public recommendation for future employment. Offer them jobs!” said Givens in an email. “Ending their employment is my #1 regret about closing the stores. Maybe my only real regret — the rest is just stuff I’ll miss.”
One thing that is sure to be missed? The act of perusing Browsers’ sprawling supply — and with it, the chance of encountering something cool, unique, rare, or one-of-a-kind.
“The strength of Browsers’ has always been its variety of inventory. And since so much of our inventory is not online, many of the best books are only available to in-store shoppers,” said Givens. “The most often heard customer comment these past few days is that there are no other bookstores like Browsers’, and I think that about sums up their perspective.”
Given Browsers’ long-standing popularity amongst the community, there is a narrow possibility that someone with enough financial backing would want to purchase the store and continue to run it.
“Within the first two days, we had four people contact us. That’s very flattering because bookstores don’t generally sell as businesses,” said Givens. “But the last several years have been financially successful for us, and so a buyer would not only get an inventory of over 200,000 great books, but also an immediate income stream, which of course is good news for an investor. I think people sense that we are a viable business. We have put a huge effort into this over twenty years, and it is good to see it appreciated.”
To all the local neighbors and shoppers, Givens harbors much gratitude for all of their support over the years, and for consistently showing that they understand the importance of shopping locally.
“Over the course of our run, we’ve spent about $2 million in cash purchases — because of the nature of used bookstores, the vast majority of that money has gone right back to local residents,” said Givens. “About that much has also gone back into the community as payroll. So, four million bucks back into the local economy is a job well done, as far as I’m concerned.”
By Emilie Ratcliff