Kennebunk bookstore closing due to online, big box competition

Posted Jan. 22, 2014, at 5:13 p.m.

KENNEBUNK, Maine — After more than four years in business, Kennebooks will be closing its doors later this winter.

“I have given the bookstore the best of my ideas, inspiration and time, and we still do not sell enough books in three good months to carry us through the nine months of operating in the ‘red,’” said owner Trish Koch. “I have worked without pay and have operated on a rotating staff of three part-time employees and two lovely students for the summer, and there is really nothing left to take out of the budget.”

Koch and her husband bought the building that formerly housed Trios restaurant in 2007 and spent the better part of two years renovating the old building. Finally, after being painted a bright blue with white trim and with 11,000 books spread over two floors, the store opened its doors in June 2009.

Over the next few years, it was the scene of author appearances, book signings and readings. Tourists came during the summer and Prelude Christmas festival, but Koch said local customers weren’t able to keep the store afloat the rest of the year.

“I know that we have some great regular customers,” she said, “there are just not enough of them.”

Koch said while people seemed to love the idea of a local bookstore, a lot confessed they were still buying their books online or at stores like Target or Sam’s Club, while they were shopping for other things.

That’s a challenge many local businesses face, said Diane Carr, owner of Poofberry’s in Lower Village.

“I was very sad to hear the news that Kennebooks would be closing their doors. It is unfortunate that online shopping has made it so difficult for small, local businesses to compete,” said Carr. “It has been awesome to have such a wonderful business neighbor and friend. Poofberry’s will miss Kennebooks and so will I. Best wishes to Trish and her staff.”

Kennebooks will be open for several weeks yet, Koch said, and she’s hoping customers will still stop in.

“We will continue to have the newest books and the New York Times best sellers as well as customer special orders right up to the end,” she said. “I suspect we will have a great sale the first half of February and a clearance the second half.”

And after that, it will be time for goodbyes.

“I’m really sad to close the store,” Koch said.

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