After a nearly two-decade career in which he developed a major taste for the product, Dennis Fennell is calling it quits.
He and wife, Linda, are closing Fireside Books, which they have operated in suburban Holland since 1988.
They say the shop is the last major independently-owned general interest bookstore in metro Toledo.
Things have been getting tougher and tougher for us, he said yesterday.
The last straw came this month when the mega chain Barnes & Noble Booksellers opened its second metro area store in the new Shops at Fallen Timbers center in Maumee.
Sales have been slipping since the mid-1990s. They blame the arrival of large chain stores including Barnes & Noble, Borders Inc., and Books-A-Million Inc.
But there were other factors: a two-year road improvement project along Airport Highway took a 40 percent dent out of sales and the closing of Farmer Jack s supermarket reduced customer traffic in the Orchard Centre retail strip where the shop is located.
Ken Dickson, a customer from Point Place who patronizes the store at least twice a month, said he will be sorry to see it go. People here really got to know their customers and what they wanted.
When the the Fennells originally opened in Spring Meadows Shopping Center nearby, they were part of the Little Professor Book Center chain. They went independent when the franchise agreement expired in 2003.
The owners, both of whom are 61, expect to close sometime in December when the last of the 30,000 books are gone.
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