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After 50 years Vernon's iconic Bookland to close

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Bookland
March 03, 2020 - 11:45 AM

After more than 50 years in the business, Vernon’s iconic Bookland store is set to close its doors.

Independent book wholesaler Monahan Agency, who owns the store, confirmed Bookland’s closure saying a date is not yet confirmed but it will close at the end of March.

"We've given it a shot for a number of years and it's just gotten to the point where it's not sustainable," Monahan Agency president Tamara Lochhead told "Unfortunately the store didn't receive enough attention until it was closing."

Lochhead said "technology and social media" was one reason why the store was closing.

While competition from online stores has impacted bricks and mortar retailers, more than this Lochhead said people aren't purchasing books in the way they once did.

"I see a lot less people overall with a book or magazine in their hands and a lot more people with a smartphone in their hands," she said. "We saw a downward turn in the industry overall at the beginning of the technology boom in 2008, and it's just gone in that direction ever since."

"It's a sad change," she said. "I'd love to see more shops."

BookLand's parent company, Monahan Agency, was set up in Vernon by Tom Monahan Sr. in 1947. Twenty years later the book and magazine wholesalers opened the Bookland store. The wholesaler, which will remain in business, is now run by the original founder's son Tom Monahan Jr.

Lochhead said over the last 50 years Bookland has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the North Okanagan Hospice Society and other charities.

"I have to assume that magazines and books aren't the only industry that's suffered with the growth of technology and social media," Lochhead said. "I think there's a lot of people that spend a lot of time focussing on social media now in their lives and probably doing a lot less of a lot of the things they used to do."

Ultimately, the decision to support local businesses has to come from individuals.

"If we as people don't get out to our brick and mortar stores and make purchases in our own community, then we won't have those stores to support our community," she said. "I think it's about really about making a conscious decision about how we shop as consumers."

With the store's closure, a full-time manager and a handful of part-time staff will lose their jobs.

Lochhead confirmed the building will be occupied by a new tenant but wasn't at liberty to say who.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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