During its nearly 50-year history, River Oaks Bookstore has enjoyed a reputation as a charming neighborhood literary hub and occasional site of visiting dignitaries. To wit: President George H.W. Bush and wife, Barbara, once stood in line — politely refusing to be ushered to the front — for a book signing by a visiting author.
But now, the beloved bookstore’s 47-year run has come to an end; the store will close at the end of the year. The news was first shared on Facebook by a store employee and was later reported by the Houston Chronicle and Channel 2.
“After nearly forty-seven years in business, River Oaks Bookstore will close at the end of this year. When our doors close, a huge part of my life — all of our lives — will close with it,” bookstore employee Whitney Carson wrote on Facebook.
Management cites the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the close. Bookstores nationwide experienced a plummet in sales by 65 percent in April compared to a year prior, the Chronicle reports.
The charming store was reminiscent of the independently owned bookstore in the wildly popular film, You’ve Got Mail. Besides myriad book signings, the store hosted book clubs, offered complimentary gift wrapping, and featured local book sections. And just as You’ve Got Mail illustrated, the River Oaks Bookstore’s closing issues a challenge those who prefer neighborhood businesses:
“When possible, shop local. Pay attention to the places and people that make a difference to your community, and to you,” Carson noted on Facebook.
“I’ll miss my friends,” Jeanne Jard, one of the original founders of River Oaks Bookstore, told Channel 2. “My life is here. Leaving it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but the time has come. When you read a book, whether you remember it or not really doesn’t matter because it becomes part of you.”