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Local Bloomington Bookstore Caveat Emptor Debates Closing Downtown Store

Caveat Emptor's storefront

Brown says as the business market changes, it’s becoming difficult for small, independently owned businesses like Caveat to stay downtown. (Facebook: Caveat Emptor Used Books )

The future of a Bloomington downtown bookstore is uncertain as the owners struggle to renegotiate their lease.

Caveat Emptor Owner Katy Brown says she’s debating the best option for the bookstore as the end of their lease approaches in August.

She says as the business market changes, it’s becoming difficult for small, independently owned businesses like Caveat to stay downtown.

“Bookstores are closing in waves across the country and we’re not immune. That could happen to us as well,” Brown says. 

Brown purchased Caveat Emptor in the summer of 2016, but says the increasing rent and fees for the downtown building make it hard to stay there.

The problem is not unique to Caveat Emptor. Howard’s Bookstore left its space on Kirkwood in 2013 and Boxcar Books closed its doors on 6th street in 2017.

Bloomington’s Barnes & Noble store on E. Third Street also closed last February. 

Although it’s ideal for Caveat Emptor to remain on North Walnut Street, Brown says if they are forced to relocate, they hope to remain central to the core downtown and near the Indiana University campus.

But the option to bring in a new buyer is still on the table. Brown envisions a new owner would maintain the integrity of the bookstore that’s been open since 1971.

“Ideally someone who wanted to buy it would come along and say, ‘I think this place is great, I would make this change and that change, but honestly I want to keep the spirit the same,'” she says. 

Brown says she hopes bookstore supporters will continue to spread the word and support the business wherever it might locate.

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