At the beginning of the year, Robert Utter and his wife, Constance Kilgore, put Other Tiger Bookstore in Westerly, R.I., up for sale. If a buyer didn’t come forward by the end of January, they said they would close the store by April 30. Since then Utter has extended the deadline to find a new owner into April. Despite more than 30 potential buyers, many serious ones, a sale is looking less and less likely.
"We’re still hopeful, because there’s so much love for our store," says Utter, who was forced to exit the book business because of chronic Lyme disease. “I’d love to sell it all [the business and the property], although most people who want to buy a bookstore can’t afford to buy the building. The book world is one of endless fascination, and the people who buy books couldn’t be better.” He likes his customers so much, “book fanatics” he calls them, that he’s already made arrangements to continue buying books for a few after the store closes.
Only one staffer remains besides Utter, and they have begun returning the store’s inventory of 10,000 new books. They fill in the gaps in the shelving with used and rare books, so the store still looks full. New books are now 20 to 30% off. Deeper discounts will go into effect soon. Other Tiger stopped selling on its website last month; its last Facebook post was in mid-February. Ironically, this is not about competition with Amazon or tough times for independents. Other Tiger has always had solid sales, according to Utter. In addition, the town of Westerly is undergoing a renaissance.
Utter says that buyers still have time until the shelves are gone. He expects to put them up for sale early next month.