For years, residents and visitors of St. Pete have enjoyed browsing second-hand books – and greeting the shop cats – at the Haslam Bookstore.
The beloved 2025 Central Avenue store announced a temporary closure on March 22, 2020 due to the pandemic. Aside from a Facebook post in May 2020, the company has remained silent online.
The owners have also resisted requests for comment since then, declining to speak to several Tampa Bay Times reporters who have called, emailed and knocked on doors over the past year.
Recently, the Google company profile was updated with a red banner indicating that the company was “permanently closed”.
According to Google, businesses can mark their own pages with this status, but Google reviewers can also submit information to the site to mark them as closed. If the site does not receive a response from business owners, the “permanently closed” banner can be added to the profile.
The Times contacted again for comment on Monday. This time Haslam responded.
“For various personal and professional reasons, Suzanne and I are still undecided on whether to reopen the bookstore to the public,” co-owner Ray Hinst wrote in an email. “We value everyone’s interest and try to consider all aspects of the situation. In the meantime our kittens are very happy in their new homes in the area.
In another email, Hinst confirmed that the owners are in the process of updating Google’s status accordingly.
One thing is certain: the presence of the bookstore was missed by the community.
Google critic Stacey Clarke posted last month that she was heartbroken that Haslam had not reopened.
“I really hope that prosperous things are to come for the crew and the location of the Haslam.”
Times literary critic Colette Bancroft contributed to this report.