Business Beat: Longfellow Books Closed Due to Storm Water Damage; Plans to Reopen on Valentine’s Day


Blue Tarps in the Fiction Room Protect Books From the Water Damage.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,295)

There are two signs in the windows at Longfellow Books in Monument Square:  “Closed for Water Damage” and “Keep Calm and Turn the Page.”    They speak volumes.

Saturday evening strong winds blew in a window on the second floor of the popular book store.  Pipes froze and then burst – sending torrents of water down to the book store below.  According to Chris Bowe, co-owner, customers walking past the store on Saturday saw an emergency light flashing inside.  They alerted the two owners who alerted city officials.  Multiple fire fighters arrived on the scene shortly thereafter.  Firefighters had to break a lock in order to get into the store.  When Bowe arrived, firefighters were hard at work saving much of the stock that otherwise would have been destroyed.

The owners plan to meet with the staff on Tuesday morning to discuss how to proceed the next few days.  The hope is  to get the store reopened as soon as possible; hopefully by Valentine’s Day.  Between 30 – 40% of the entire stock is water damaged.  The fiction room was damaged the most severly.  The task ahead is daunting. “This is a labor intensive  business,” Cowe said this morning.  “People have no idea of all the work that goes into selling books. Every day that I’m not selling books, I’m not making money. And books keep coming in every day.  Regional writers are taking a big hit.”  

Cowe believes his insurance will cover the expenses involved in restoring the  store and  making  it better than it was prior to the storm.  He is counting on volunteers to help put the store back together for Valentine’s Day.  Kris Horton, owner of K. Horton Speciality Foods 28 Monument Square, has agreed to feed the volunteers who help bring the store back to life.

“Keep Calm and Turn the Page” is just what is Bowe is doing.  He’s so grateful for the work the firefighters did to save so much of his stock. Regional writers have voluntered to assist in the clean-up among others.   “There’s been a real outpouring from the community that I’m so grateful for,” his eyes getting moist.  He says his voice has given out and he disappears to the back of the store.

“I feel very close to Stu and to Chris – they are almost like family,” said Sally Wigon,  Wigon Office Supplies, 18 Free Street.   “I remember when they were with Bookland. (Both owners are former Bookland employees.)  They will be fine, I know it.” she said.  Wigin’s father started the business back in 1932.