Roberta Dyer, an owner of Broadway Books in Portland, is retiring from the partnership. Kim Bissell, who has been working at the store since early September, will be Sally McPherson’s new business partner at the store. The following is excerpted from Roberta’s email to customers.
My friends, as I prepare to hang up my professional hat, I am struck by what this community has meant to me. I have been a bookseller since I finished college in 1970. That’s 44 years of slinging stories. Almost exactly half of those years have been spent behind the counter, in front of the counter, and lurking in the aisles – helping customers, ordering books, receiving books, shelving books, and selling books at 1714 NE Broadway. It has been a pleasure, a challenge, a wild ride, a great deal of fun, and most of all a privilege to be the owner of your neighborhood bookstore.
I have not done this alone. I have been blessed with an incredible staff and two amazing business partners. Gloria Borg Olds, with whom I opened the store in 1992, staggered with me through some lean years and celebrated some more successful years. We held hands through it all and were fond of saying that a business partnership was like a marriage, only more polite. Sally McPherson, my partner for almost eight years now, came to me as a longtime book industry professional and saved my life. If not for her, I’m sure the store would have closed when the lease was up. She breathed new energy into the business and in the process, became my dear friend. She is without a doubt the best book person I know.
Our staff has always been small but mighty and so, so integral to our success. Each person brings different skills to the store, each is a delight to work with, and each shares our love of books and readers. Although our turnover is practically zero, over the years we’ve said hello and goodbye to a few dozen. I thank them all. Today, our staff is Judy McKeever, Rose Lewin, Kate Bennison, and Karin Anna. Each of them is like a sister to me.
I would like to give a shout-out to authors. Every bookstore in the world is in bed with these magical beings who sing to us in so many languages and give great meaning to our lives. Especially, though, to every author who ever came through our door, thank you. Whether you did a reading for us, or came in to sign books, or showed up for other authors’ events, or just popped in to say hello or buy a book, you have enriched our reading experience by your presence. Knowing so many of you personally has been one of the highlights of my career. I have loved selling your books. And literally, we’re nothing without you.
I cannot count the number of friends I have made through this little store. My circle of readers seems to have expanded exponentially each year. Your support and encouragement, your interest and attention, your patronage and loyalty are the reason this business is still thriving and growing after all of these years. Saying “thank you” hardly seems adequate, but those are the only words I have.
If I could, I would come to each and every one of your houses with a big fat chocolate cake. We’d sit on the front porch and eat it together while talking about our latest favorite books. Alas, this would take me several years and would not be good for my diet.
So instead, we’re having a BIG FAT PARTY.
On Sunday, November 9, we’ll all be here from Noon to 5. Reader, you are invited.
We’ll have cake and champagne and tell stories to each other. We’ll take pictures. We’ll reminisce about the past and speculate about the future. We’ll introduce you to Kim. We’ll get a little rowdy. And if you want to shop, on November 9 only, we’ll give you a 23% discount on your entire purchase in honor of our 23rd year in business.
One final note about my leaving: I’m not really leaving. I’ll be working a couple of days a week through the end of the year, and perhaps after that, if they need me and I am available. I prefer to think that I am not retiring but rather transitioning to an Emeritus position.
And just because I cannot stop talking, a second final note: I am so excited for Sally and Kim’s new adventure together! I know there will be some changes made. That makes me happy! Part of the reason the store is still here is that we have changed with the times, and of that I am extremely proud. I look forward to seeing what happens next at Broadway Books! I know you do, too.