Chris Doeblin, Book Culture’s owner, has just updated his fans and followers with an email they didn’t want to see. Sadly, Book Culture on Columbus has permanently closed. It’s for good this time.
“The Columbus Ave Book Culture store will not reopen. Though we were hoping to enter into an agreement which would allow the store to quickly reopen under new management, those negotiations have ceased and no such deal is in place.”
Just before noon on Tuesday, January 7th, Doeblin sent out an email stating that Book Culture on Columbus had to temporarily close. There was a Marshal’s notice in the window, as well as a hand-written note from the owner which reiterated the ‘unexpected closing’. Doeblin stated that he was $140,000 behind in rent.
Following the January 7th closing, fans of Book Culture supported Doeblin by gathering outside the Columbus Avenue store to rally and post positive sticky notes in the window. Unfortunately, these well wishes were not enough to keep the location open.
For the past six months, Book Culture has relied on the community to finance its operations and keep their Columbus Avenue store afloat.
“This is the saddest and most destructive outcome we had imagined. The community surrounding our stores provided a lifeline in lending to us these past 6 months. That lifeline now sits, wasted, behind the locked doors. 12 employees who absolutely lived paycheck to paycheck are now out of work.”
Doeblin has cited an increased minimum wage and rising insurance costs as two reasons behind the store’s financial woes.
The first email he sent about the company’s fragile state was in June of 2019. In this email, he mentioned that all four stores were in danger of closing.
But according to NY Daily News, there was a bit more going on.
Both the minority owner, John MacArthur, and the landlord, Robert Quinlan, blamed Chris Doeblin for the store’s struggles.
MacArthur filed a lawsuit which accused Doeblin of taking the money people contributed to Book Culture on Columbus and using it to fund the Book Culture locations which are actually losing money (Book Culture on Columbus did $4 million in sales during 2018). The lawsuit also accuses Doeblin of fraud by setting up his “community lender program”.
Doeblin responded to the lawsuit by stating that MacArthur’s claims were a “complete and utter misunderstanding of what is going on,” adding that “we have put over $300,000 into the Columbus Avenue store.”
Doeblin concluded his email by stating that he will continue attempting to raise money to “open again in the area”.
The landlord hopes to put a new book store into the space at 450 Columbus Avenue, and is in “late state negoations” with a potential tenant.
Book Culture on Columbus first opened in 2014.Get the Upper West Side newsletter:
featured images via Google Street View