Like the foul stench of a hamster that crawled into the wallboards and died months ago, sometimes even the worst of ideas just don't seem go away.
Shortly after Harry W. Schwartz announced it would be going out of business after 80+ years, ShorewoodNOW blogger Joe Mangiamelle began incessantly proposing that someone (at first, the Village of Shorewood, but eventually anyone) take over the Shorewood location. Now another ShorewoodNOW blogger, Dave Tatarowicz, has taken a more proactive step in seeing to it that the bookstore remains.
I happen to love Harry W. Schwartz, and was disappointed to learn their stores would be closing. I've always made a point of shopping there as opposed to the bigger book sellers, like that a portion of every purhase I make is contributed to a literacy program and am always impressed by the level of customer service provided. For the most part, I think my appreciation for the retailer comes from the fact that it is run by professionals who truly understand the business of selling books. And so when they decide that after nearly a century of being in business that the market simply is unable to sustain it any longer, I tend to defer to their opinion. This is what confounds me about the Mangiamelle/Tatorowicz proposal.
While Tatorowicz has taken an admittedly more realistic approach to saving the store than Mangiamelle originally did by suggesting a co-op supported by donations from various private contributors as opposed to a government-backed service, it still concerns me that he would propose the use of BID dollars to achieve his goal. During a recession, the last thing we need is government investing money into an operation that has proven itself unsustainable.
As an aside, I'd like to point out to Mangiamelle that of all the praises he sings about Schwartz, be it the community space it offers, a place to drink coffee or get free entertainment, he sure doesn't have much to say about the fact that they also sell books. Maybe if more of the people who lounged around the seating area reading their newspapers and visiting with neighbors spent a few more dollars on the products Schwartz was there to offer in the first place, sustainability wouldn't be an issue.
Finally, everyone lamenting the closing of Schwartz's Shorewood location seems to be ignoring the fact that it will be replaced with an improved Pick 'n Save. I can speak from experience that the existing Pick 'n Save is, to be generous, sub-par. The facility is old and cramped. Parking is horrible. And it's Shorewood's only large grocery store. I've given up going there, but would certainly love to have the convenience of shopping in my own neighborhood at an improved store rather than driving several miles to a better grocery store.
But then, what's more important? Books, or food?