Monte Cristo Bookstore in NL for sale

New London - Two years after opening downtown's only bookstore, founders of the Monte Cristo Bookshop on Green Street are in search of a new owner.

"Monte Cristo Bookshop will either have to change ownership or close by the end of summer," co-owner Christopher Jones revealed Friday on his Facebook page. "We will be talking to prospective new owners in the next few months."

Jones said in a follow-up interview that he will be attending Three Rivers Community College starting in August to pursue a career in computer science. His wife and business co-owner, Gina, is working toward a new career as a medical assistant, he added.

Jones said the independent bookstore made a profit last year, but the proceeds were not enough to support even one person's salary, let alone two. With a family and bills to pay, he said, it made sense to pursue other options.

"A lot of people will be very sad if this store closes," Jones said. "I'd say we definitely gave it a go the best that anyone could."

Jones said the business could be run by a retiree or perhaps as a nonprofit to benefit a charitable group, but he recommended a smaller space than his current location. He said he could see selling the bookstore - with its estimated 50,000 new and used books - for about $12,000.

If a buyer cannot be found before the end of July, he said, the bookstore would begin liquidating its inventory, which includes about 150 shelving units. Jones said about half of the bookstore's inventory is new books, while the other half are used.

"The store is very popular," he said. "We have a lot of regular customers."

Jones said the store survived as long as it did thanks to the more than 100 events he hosted annually at the shop. The free get-togethers "solidified vague notions of community and neighborhood," he said, while driving a lot of the book-selling business.

Still, Jones said, most of his customers were from outside New London, and he found it difficult to market the bookstore because of a feeling that there was little else to do downtown. Jones said New London Main Street was the most helpful organization he encountered in trying to build his business, but he said the city Planning and Zoning department also was quick to respond to requests.

"The city had open doors," he said.

Jones said it would break his heart if the bookstore had to close permanently.

"There is also a chance a new owner could take the keys and keep it chugging along forward," he said on Facebook. "I am more than happy to show them how we operate and introduce my author contacts."

l.howard@theday.com

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