Liz Murphy, the owner of the Learned Owl Bookshop, a fixture in downtown Hudson, Ohio for the past 45 years, has sold the bookstore to Kate Schlademan, 37, the store’s manager. Schlademan’s previous bookstore experience includes working at DuBois Bookstore in Kent, Ohio for about two years, and a seven-year stint working for Borders Books, in Vermont and in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
Friday morning, the two signed the papers transferring ownership from Murphy to Schlademan, effective March 15, even though one of Schlademan’s first duties as store owner will occur sooner than that: she will represent The Learned Owl at the ABA's Winter Insitute in Kansas City next week. Murphy will work with Schlademan “for the forseeable future” to insure a seamless transition.
In a letter sent to PW and posted on the store’s Web site this morning, Murphy explained that she hired Schlademan two years ago as a storyteller during Hudson’s first International Festival. “She quickly became a staff member, then Events Coordinator, and has been, at least unofficially, my full-time manager for the past year,” Murphy wrote. “I don’t think I could have found anyone better to love the Owl as I have, and take it successfully into the coming decades.”
Jean and Bob Isabel founded The Learned Owl in a 1,500-square-foot street-level retail space on Hudson’s Main Street in 1968. In 1983, Murphy and a business partner, Elaine Ober, purchased The Learned Owl from its third owner. Murphy became the sole proprietor of the store in 1990. The store currently is housed in a 2,300 square-foot retail space on three floors. Murphy announced in the spring of 2012 that she was looking for a buyer for the store. Schlademan raised $25,000 online through indiegogo to make half of the $50,000 down payment on the store.
Schlademan told PW that she doesn’t intend to make any “major changes” to the store; her focus right now is on the transition, and “making sure all the customers are comfortable” with the change in ownership. The store’s 21 full-time and part-time employees “will remain the same for the most part,” with some “natural attrition” through impending retirements.
Murphy said that she intends to become more involved with Hudson’s tourist center – Destination Hudson -- as well as its visitor’s center, and a business group, Merchants of Hudson. Plus, she writes, “I am very committed to making sure [Schlademan’s] next chapter is successful. I plan to be her best customer for years to come.”