Book Jacket Of The Times

Larry Robin – owner, Robin’s Books and, for the last god-damned time NOTSanta Claus, kids

Robin’s Books, the last vanguard of independent bookstores, is closing its doors on January 31st, says the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The death notice appears in the front window of Robin’s Bookstore in Center City, sandwiched between Chopin – A Life and Our Dumb World.

Par for the course in the provocative world of proprietor Larry Robin.

His display philosophy has always been to mix the obscure with the best-seller, pairing “things you’re going to look at because you’re interested and things I think you should know about.”

In this case, the death notice is the thing he wants you to know about. Robin’s, started by his grandfather in 1936 and believed to be Philadelphia’s oldest independent book seller, is calling it quits at the end of January.

He can take the stomach-churning world of declining sales outpacing rising expenses, the unlevel playing field of single owner versus national chain, the predictions of further economic deterioration with no immediate end in sight no more.

Sales dipping as much as 15 percent in recent months, his salary not even $30,000, Robin said his beloved business had gone “from bad bearable to bad unbearable.”

Sadly, this is the way things are gonna go for a lot of local businesses. That’s why I’ve always tried to support local shopkeeps when I can – although it can be tough when they can’t afford to not mark-up their prices like bigger chain stores can. You just don’t get that same feeling at the malls or in a shopping center as you do when you walk into a small shop and are greeted and treated like the most important person in the room.

I hate going to the mall or a shopping center and getting the fake, trying-to-hard niceties like they’re churning out over at the Barnes & Noble at the Concord Mall in Delaware. Like the dude who kept calling me Chase Utley every 5 seconds. Fine. I get it. I’m wearing a Chase Utley jersey. No, I’m not getting ready for batting practice, just trying to find a marked-down copy of “Godless“. Ha ha, yeah, that’s funny, I’m not wearing my World Series ring. Find my damn MGMT CD so I can get out of here, please! UGH! I’ll just go to a less-annoying store.

And don’t even get me started on the always-disinterested/working-hard-enough-not-to-get-fired/probably-went-to-Chichester-with-me employee types. Ya know, the kinds that act like you’re completely ruining your day when you need them to look up something in the computer.

Local spots, mom `n pops..they’re rockin’. Especially because, 9 times out of 10, the person giving you attention is also the store’s head accountant and CEO. So, you have a higher percentage of having an enjoyable shopping/browsing/looky-loo experience and a lower percentage of douchebaggery.

So go out and support a local business! Especially when the end result could be the demise of a long-time staple of Philadelphia and its subsequent new found identity:

On the second floor of 108 S. 13th St., where Robin still plans to offer some used books for sale, a “café” is taking shape where, on a stage yet to be built, readings and other performances “with intellectual content” will be offered for a fee to the public.

Cafe. Stage. Readings. Intellectual content.

*shivers in disgust* Take that sh*t to Manayunk.

Philly – go out and get some cheap books while you can!

Robin’s Bookstore

108 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 567-2615

– AP

2 Comments so far

  1. phi_robin on December 3rd, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

    Yeah, this really stinks! Poor independent stores are going out of business. Shop local, people!

  2. Joe Smith (aaronproctor) on December 3rd, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

    Here, here.

    I know it’s often hard to help local businesses out…and that just means more closings of community staples like the one above.

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