Archive Bookstore: Independent St. Louis Shop Will Likely Shut Down, Owner "Heartbroken"

Amber Dover, a co-owner of the Archive Bookstore in St. Louis, says she can't ignore her financial struggles anymore: The time has come, it seems, to close the doors of her independent shop.

"I've been really, really heartbroken," Dover tells Daily RFT. "I feel like I'm at the deathbed of a good friend, and I don't know how to help."

Dover announced last week that the Archive Bookstore at 2903 South Jefferson Avenue in Benton Park West "has reached an impasse" and will begin a 25 percent off sale starting this month -- in anticipation of a likely closure soon after.

See also: - Book House: Shop in Historic House Gets Eviction Notice, Storage Site Planned - Burglary At Benton Park West Archive Bookstore - New Used Bookstore The Archive to Host Gallery Show, Preview Friday Night

The news of Archive's possible end comes weeks after the Book House, a beloved store in Rock Hill, got its eviction notice; developers there are planning to demolish the historic house in order to construct a storage facility on the block.

While the Book House hopes to find a new space and keep the business alive in St. Louis, the Archive may not be able to overcome its hardships.

"We've just reached this precipice. We just don't really see how we can continue to go on," says Dover, 35, who owns the store with her husband, Tom Freeman, and another partner, Steven Hoffmann.

The Archive Bookstore, one of the few remaining independent St. Louis book shops, has been in business since its soft opening in December of 2009 and sells a diverse range of used books as well as collectible and antiques.

About a year ago, Dover explains, the store had to move from its location on Cherokee Street between Virginia and Compton avenues, because the owner of that property was selling.

At the new location on Jefferson, the Archive Bookstore has struggled to get steady foot traffic and given the difficult economy and the especially tough market for booksellers, it has become virtually impossible to stay afloat, she says.

"We've mentally prepared ourselves for that inevitable situation," says Dover, "but I always like to believe there could be a miracle out there."

She and her co-owners will reevaluate in mid-June and make a final determination. But unless there is some sort of "miracle," the next step will be liquidation.

Continue for more of our interview with Amber Dover and for more photos.

On Facebook, Dover writes:

Please consider this a pre-liquidation notice of our bookstore. Please stop in, say hello, get some great prices on wonderful books, and take the opportunity to let us know what you think about St. Louis potentially losing another bookstore.

"If things remain anywhere close to where they have been, we'll pretty much be shutting down after mid-June," she tells Daily RFT.

Dover says she recognizes that bookstores across the country are struggling -- but says the situation seems especially dire in St. Louis.

Art credit to Michael Draga.

"I feel St. Louis is not very much of a literary town," she says. "I think of other cities that have the big book stores that are independent.... St. Louis hardly seems to sustain the few bookstores that we have. That's the hard part."

Dover says if she does have to close the store as expected, she likely won't consider opening another book shop, citing a "dying interest in books."

She adds, "If we see this outpouring of support from the community, that would make a huge difference."

Here's the full announcement Dover posted on Friday, followed by more photos of the Archive Bookstore.

The Archive Bookstore in St. Louis has reached an impasse, and must now make a decision about the future of our bookstore. We can no longer feasibly keep up our doors open if business remains stagnant. We will begin a 25% off sale on June 1st, and then review our situation in two weeks to see if we can viably keep the store open. Please consider this a pre-liquidation notice of our bookstore. Please stop in, say hello, get some great prices on wonderful books, and take the opportunity to let us know what you think about St. Louis potentially losing another bookstore.

Thank you, The Archive

We are located in the Benton Park West Neighborhood, and also across the street from the Benton Park Neighborhood. 2903 S. Jefferson 63118 (the cross street by us is Pestalozzi, which always has parking on it if you don't see any in front of our store.)

Continue for more photos of the Archive Bookstore.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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