‘I Can’t Believe…’ bookstore to close

Published 12:33 am Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gary Ceres, co-owner of I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store, talks about the coming closure of the store during an interview Tuesday. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

Owners to keep General’s Store down the street

The owners of I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store, located at 216 W. Main St., will close their store by the end of February, co-owner Gary Ceres said Tuesday.

Ceres and co-owner Richard Snow will continue operating The General’s Store, housed at 144 W. Main St., next to the Turnage Theater. Ceres said he plans to leave the community eventually.

Opened recently, The General’s Store is stocked with bread, batteries, bottled soft drinks and other provisions, but its inventory is likely to expand once the bookstore is closed, according to Ceres.

“We’ll move some of our inventory over to this store,” he said. “In particular, we want to keep up with the local authors.”

In the meantime, Snow and Ceres will have sales at the bookstore and try to find a buyer for portions of their inventory.

Ceres envisions keeping The General’s Store as a place for local writers to sell their work and hold book-signings, though this smaller space won’t be a bookstore.

“We’re going to transform it more into a general store,” he said. “We may actually move the coffee shop (now at the bookstore) in here. We may carry some clothing, move more into a general store plus provisions.”

To date, The General’s Store has had no set hours, but future hours will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, with a possibility of expanded hours during the summer, Ceres shared.

I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store was launched in February 2010 in a storefront next to La Bella Pizzeria on Main Street.

The store migrated to the former Bank of Washington, its present location, this February.

Snow and Ceres have become downtown fixtures over the past couple of years, organizing book-signings, a fall festival, Christmas occasions and outdoor theatrical events.

“We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of loyal support,” Ceres commented. “We love our customers; we love being here. I love the town itself. There’s a great sense of community here.”

Asked why the bookstore is being shut down, Ceres pointed to an unfavorable business climate, high rates charged by the city-owned Washington Electric Utilities and what he sees as a lack of city support for small businesses.

“If anything, I see more regulation on the way,” he said.

Beth Byrd is executive director of the Washington Harbor District Alliance, which promotes downtown Washington as a destination for visitors and residents.

“I think it’s imperative that we keep ourselves focused on what needs to happen downtown, and we need to draw more people from outside this area to visit downtown,” Byrd said. “That’s the only way that we can really help these small businesses to survive.”

WHDA is working on grants and strategies to accomplish these goals, she related.

If you would like to nominate a Beaufort County-based business for BizLine, call 252-946-2144, ext. 230, or email jonathan.clayborne@thewashingtondailynews.com.