We’re truly sad to announce that 21st Century Bookstore, an institution in Fairfield since 1983, is closing its doors! It’s doubly sad for us at the Source since 21st Century opened in October 1983, six months before our very first issue!
But for independent bookstores, the writing has been on the wall for some time. Back in 2004, owner Tony Kainauskus and his wife Sharon decided to close and look for jobs out of town. Along came angel investors Len and Dena Oppenheim, who purchased the store, opened in a new location, and allowed Tony and Sharon to continue as managers. Since then, the faltering economy combined with the rise of Amazon and ebooks have made independent bookstores an untenable business, especially in a small town like Fairfield.
21st Century Bookstore founder Tony Kainauskus, his wife Sharon, and owners Len and Dena Oppenheim. They will be open at least through the end of March.
Here’s what Len says: “Thanks to the support of so many of you, both Fairfield residents and our friends and customers all over the country, we have managed to do okay since we re-launched the new store. . . . Unfortunately, during the last two years, given the weakening economy, the increased popularity of electronic media like The Kindle, and of course due to the ever-increasing competition from Amazon, our losses have grown to the point that we finally have to face up to the reality that we cannot continue this endeavor into perpetuity.
“Tony has expressed our predicament perfectly, comparing us to a blacksmith or buggy repair man at the beginning of the 20th century. There is practically no way an independent bookstore can thrive or even survive in our modern society. We are in excellent company, as we close our store, in that we are exiting at about the same time as one of the great spiritual bookstores in America, The Bodhi Tree (located in Los Angeles), is closing its doors.
“I really want to thank Sharon and Tony for having created one of the greatest bookstores on the planet, and for having nursed and nurtured it during its great growth phase and then having carefully taken it into its final retirement.”
From Tony: “To the many customers who ordered through us, when prices at online dealers were often less, thank you, you have helped our business survive as long as it did.
“ And lastly I need to be grateful for the closing of the store as well, as this is another hidden gift. For letting go of someone or something can be our hardest yet greatest spiritual lesson.”