In the latest proof that a new generation is interested in preserving independent bookstores and local communities, Kas Sharma has purchased Henry Bear’s Park, headquartered in Arlington, Mass., which operates three toy and bookstores in Arlington, Brookline, and Cambridge. The 37-year-old business went on the market in June, and the sale, which was completed the week before Thanksgiving, was handled by Ridge Hill Partners of Needham, Mass. It also helped find new owners for several other Greater Boston stores in the past few years: Porter Square Books, New England Mobile, and Wellesley Books.
“When I first read that the stores were available, I didn’t instantly see this as an opportunity for myself,” said Sharma, a certified financial analyst, whose previous work experience included a stint as senior manager with MathWorks. “I live in Brookline. I have a toddler, and another [baby] on the way, and my wife and I absolutely love the stores, the staff, and the selection. As I thought more about the business and considered the role that it plays in metro Boston, I began to see it as a perfect fit with my personal values and professional goals.”
Henry Bear’s Park founder Sally Lesser will stay on for several months to ensure a smooth transition for the business she started in 1976 and named for David McPhail’s Henry Bear’s Park. At this point Sharma says that he isn’t planning any changes. He and Lesser negotiated longterm extensions for the leases, and the staff is staying in place. “The goal,” he says, “is to continue with the same culture, philosophy, and values that Sally operated the business with. [It’s] more important for us to preserve what Henry Bear’s Park has done so well for so many years. The risk is in changing something that has a proven track record.”