Struggling bookstore makes plea to patrons
Marine City's Book Blues faces closure


MARINE CITY- For a year and a half, the cozy bookstore on the corner of Water and Broadway streets has been a haven for young moms, retirees, teenagers and other community members.
Now, like many locally owned shops, the Book Blues is feeling the pinch of Michigan's struggling economy.

Earlier this month, Book Blues owners Jackie and Todd Wilson sent an e-mail to loyal customers with some bad news. If
business doesn't improve by late January, the popular bookstore will close.
The Wilsons are turning to their loyal customers for survival and have launched a campaign called "Save the Book Blues: Shop locally or there will be no local shops."

Although Jackie, a former college instructor and marketing manager, acknowledges it was an unorthodox move to make the store's status so public, she said she wanted to inform her regular customers of the precarious situation.

"The people who have supported us deserve to know instead of what many businesses do, which is packing up in the middle of the night without an explanation," she said. "Now's the time to show your love or we won't be here."

The Wilsons prize themselves on their connections with customers and on the store's inviting atmosphere. The store, which sells used and new books, offers free coffee to customers and features comfortable chairs and couches where people can rest their feet while turning pages. A children's area includes small chairs, bean bags and plush toys and allows young customers to scope out books filed away in a cubby.

Kim Mucciante of St. Clair dropped by the store Thursday morning looking for the latest Harry Potter novel.

"(My kids) love the children's section," she said. "It's really cozy in here. This is a nice cultural thing. It's more cultural than what we usually have around here. It's a great bookstore."

Mucciante was surprised the store may have to close its doors. The "nice personal touch" makes the Book Blues stand out from big box retailers such as Barnes & Noble Booksellers, she said.

"There's nothing here like this," she told Jackie. "I hope you stay."

The Wilsons, who on a whim moved to Marine City from northern Virginia a few years ago, don't want to close. Before a lull arrived this fall, the store was doing pretty well, Jackie said.

The business usually brings in only a little more than what it spends, so even a short slow spell can have a large impact, she said.

"It can change overnight for a small business," she said. "We run pretty close to what we make."

Recently, the family has had to subsidize the business with their own money.

Todd Wilson works full time as a sales director for a
home entertainment company. Jackie, who manages the store, never has paid herself a salary.

As the couple prepares to have their first baby in March, they can't continue running a slow business, she said.

"How the community reacts and continues to support us could really save us," she said.

Contact Nicole Gerring at (810) 989-6270 or
Originally published December 22, 2007


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