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West End bookstore hopes ‘buy local’ movement will write new chapter

Book People’s manager David Shuman and owner Ruth Erb. (Mike Platania)

HENRICO, Va. — The staff of a West End bookshop is hoping its owner’s retirement isn’t the last chapter of the company’s 40-year run.

Book People, a new and used book store at 536 Granite Ave., has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000 to renovate the shop and pass the business on to employees as owner Ruth Erb prepares to retire at yearend.

Erb opened the bookstore in 1980. Staff began planning for Erb’s retirement about two years ago as they didn’t want the shop to close. But now, store manager David Shuman, who’s leading the effort, said a crowdfunding failure could mean the end of the business.

“It’s renovate or else,” Shuman said.

Book People is packed with more than 20,000 books on shelves reaching the ceiling. Its building, constructed in 1946, needs new flooring, track lighting, shelving, paint, a new sales counter and a point-of-sale computer system.

“We literally have to gut the store,” Shuman said.

The crowdfunding campaign, hosted on Indiegogo, also would cover expenses to keep the business afloat while the store is closed during renovations, including storing the mounds of books.

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