Lieberman’s Bookstore closes after twenty years of business
Managing News Editor
Lieberman’s Bookstore announced on Oct. 8 that it would close at the end of the month after 20 years of business on Main Street.
Lieberman’s is a family-owned bookstore that has served university students since 1999. In addition to closing its storefront on Main Street, Lieberman’s will also cease all retail operations after the month of October.
In an email to its entire mailing list, partner Marshall Lieberman announced the store’s closing.
“Over the last 20 years, it has been a pleasure catering to the student body of the University of Delaware, providing textbooks, rentals, supplies, apparel and gifts,” Marshall Lieberman said. “It is with a heavy heart that we would like to formally announce that our store will be closing at the end of the month.”
The store and its employees will return to its storefront during the last two weeks of the fall 2019 semester, Dec. 2 through Dec. 14, to collect rental returns.
Haley Will, a junior atmospheric science major at the university, started working at Lieberman’s last winter session after hearing about the position through a friend. In early June, she became a key holder, which Will compares to a manager with a variety of responsibilities, and has since been making all the course packets sold at the store.
Will estimates that she was told of the bookstore’s closing approximately three weeks prior to the announcement made to the public.
“We keep having members of the community come in and [say] ‘Hey, I heard you were closing, is that true? There’s no way,’” Will said. “So at least the community has been very sympathetic.”
Lieberman’s closing follows the trend set by its many other businesses located on Main Street. Finn McCool’s, Saxby’s Coffee and California Tortilla have all shut their doors to their Main Street locations within the past year. When addressing the demise of the store, Will explained that the store faced fierce competition in recent years.
“The marketing for textbooks is not what it used to be,” Will said. “Now it’s online e-books that you can get for textbooks … you can access a lot of textbooks through the online library. It really is a huge competition for us. It’s not like we were a big corporation, we’re a family-owned business.”
Sophomores Priya Patel and Joud Dabaj sympathized with the store’s closing and did not like the fact that they would have to resort to other locations for the textbook’s needs.
“I wish they were more supported, especially in such a small state such as Delaware,” Dabaj said.
However, Patel understood why it came to an end.
“At the same time, I feel like students naturally go to online resources now,” Patel said.
Over the past year, Main Street has been undergoing heavy reconstructions in an attempt to widen sidewalks and reconstruct its drainage system. Will asserts that this affected the flow of foot traffic surrounding the store and the rest of Main Street.
“During NSO [New Student Orientation], it was hard because it was very obvious that the [orientation] leaders had to direct the kids around the construction,” Will said. “So the usual foot traffic that we had especially over the summer decreased by a lot and it was bad.”
Will further elaborated that the frequent construction interfered with attempts to advertise the store.
“Even with Delaware Avenue behind our store, over the summer, we [handed out] flyers outside across the road,” Will said. “There were days where they were putting down the new asphalt on [East] Delaware and we could not stand back there because it was so bad. The fumes. And it was hot. And when they’re putting down fresh asphalt, there’s constant dust in the air. It was just not good to breathe in.”
Although the ongoing construction has supposedly remained a deterrent for small businesses, the need to support local shops still holds.
Will, as an employee of a small business, encourages consumers to occasionally stop in their local businesses as much as they possibly can. She asserts that support from the community is crucial to the success of family-owned enterprises.
A shorter version of this article appeared on The Review’s website on Oct. 10 and the print edition on Oct. 11. The article, as of Oct. 21, has been updated to include an employee’s opinion on the closure as well as student opinions.