Neighbors Bookstore calling it quits |

Neighbors Bookstore calling it quits

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily TribuneSouth Lake Tahoe residents Suzan VanMeter, left, and Beverly Towle browse the shelves at Neighbors Bookstore.

Despite a seemingly ideal location and constant efforts to promote the business, Neighbors Bookstore is closing after four years of operation.

Neighbors is shutting its doors Jan. 19, said store owner Michael Stroschein.

The store hasn’t covered its overhead costs since the second year it was open, Stroschein said.

Neighbors is in the Raley’s-anchored Village Center in the Stateline area, a location frequented by both locals and tourists. Not only that, but the store is at the end of the shopping center, clearly visible to motorists on Highway 50.

And the store has held regular weekend book signings and hosted storytimes for children.

Staff members have contributed frequent book reviews to the Tribune. And for Halloween, the store organized a zombie walk that drew dozens of participants.

But all that apparently wasn’t enough to offset Lake Tahoe’s sluggish winters and summers as well as competition from the Internet and bookstores located outside the basin.

“You just can’t compete here,” Stroschein said.

Stroschein said sales are a third less than what they used to be, which accounts for a lot of lost revenue.

Curtis Herren, an employee at Sierra-at-Tahoe, said he’s shopped at the store a couple of times. As he was leaving Neighbors, he said it’s sad to see the only bookstore in town close.

“I think that says something about the community,” Herren said.

Suzan VanMeter and her mother, Beverly Towle, also were disappointed after hearing about the closure. They were shopping in the store on Christmas Eve.

“I always try to support local businesses,” VanMeter said.

VanMeter said it hurts businesses when locals go off the hill to save money. The South Shore can’t have a variety of stores if people don’t shop locally, she said.

Hard times have hit all businesses in the area, VanMeter said.

Stroschein said the shoulder seasons are especially hard on locals, and the peak seasons haven’t been kind, either.

“Tahoe is going through a transition, and it’s hard on everyone,” he said. “We’ve come to the end of our ability to adjust.”

The decrease in foot traffic has been a huge factor in declining sales, along with the Internet.

“The Internet is hurting businesses all over,” VanMeter said.

Stroschein said Web sites such as do take away business from independent bookstores, but that such locally-owned stores have to plan for that now.

A Tahoe resident, Stroschein said he doesn’t yet know what he’ll do after his store closes. Neighbors has a staff of eight.

Even though the bookstore is closing, Stroschein said he appreciates the support customers have given him over the years.

After the new year, the store will begin discounting items for clearance.

He encourages people to come out to the farewell party Jan. 19 at the store, where food and music will be provided to those who attend.

“It’s not a wake,” Stroschein said. “It’s a farewell party.”

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