Save America's Oldest Bookstore!
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Moravian College recently bought the independent Moravian Book Shop with plans to turn it into a Barnes & Noble college bookstore, which will end the 273-year-old business. Please stand with us in telling them "NO!"
The Moravian Book Shop has anchored Bethlehem’s historic downtown for generations and has built itself into the premier location for books, gifts and Christmas decorations in downtown Bethlehem. Despite what some people have said in the news, after a few up and down years, the Moravian Book Shop is in a good position in terms of its core business.
In the last year we have streamlined our operations and modernized the store’s back-end systems. We had almost $2 million in sales last year and we are on pace for an even better 2018. In fact, any financial difficulty stems from the Moravian Church’s Provincial Elders’ Conference (PEC) and the Moravian Book Shop’s Board of Directors decision, over the protest of lower management and employees, to take out bad loans to open a location in Allentown in 2015. The Allentown store lost money for two years and when it closed last year the bad loans became due. Despite the Bethlehem location’s strengthening position we were not able to absorb the entire cost of the bad loans and so the PEC decided to negotiate in secret to sell the store.
As it currently stands, the Moravian Book Shop will be taken over by Barnes & Noble (the national bookstore chain) and Sodexo (a multinational food services company) to provide a college bookstore for Moravian College. All of our staff will be laid off, though we were told we could interview for jobs at the new store, and the mission of the Moravian Book Shop will be lost forever. Moravian College is a great school, indeed, my brother and many of my close friends are alumni. And, the Moravian College students deserve a place to buy their textbooks, but that need does not have to erase 273 years of Bethlehem’s history.
I think there are other avenues worth exploring, but if the sale from the Moravian Church to Moravian college is inevitable, the college has a choice as to who will operate the bookstore, including giving the current management a chance to show what we are capable of. I ask you to please tell the college that local small businesses are important for the health of our historic downtown and the entire city.
We need you to sign the petition and contact Moravian College (information below) to tell we do not want huge national and multinational corporations controlling our downtown!
Bryon L. Grigsby
President, Moravian College
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