Fly By Night: Many Favorite Bookstores to Close in January “Burlington Gazette


By Pepper Parr

December 8, 2021


When a bookstore closes, there is a tear in the social fabric that is difficult to mend. Something that was – is no more.

Closing scheduled for the end of January.

At the end of January, Fly By Night – Antiques and Books will close its doors for the last time. Personal health reasons are such that Michael Cowan, who has run the store for over 20 years, can no longer do the job.

The focus is on used books with every title imaginable in a store which is a collection of shelves that go up to the ceiling and packed in stacks on the floor as well.

Cowan started out with only books, but developed a personal interest in antiques and began to store things he liked. It has become an important part of his business.

The books come from a person called a “collector” who is called when a household might move and wants to get rid of the books.

The people who run an estate will call the picker and ask them to pick it up and get rid of it.

Rows of shelves that were a destination for those looking for something new to read.

For book lovers, these stores are heaven – a place to spend hours browsing the titles.

Bob “G” was uncomfortable with the use of his last name, said he was “out of picking, too old to run around and lug around heavy boxes of books”.

He tells the story of once he picked a guitar he paid $ 20 for, then learned it was an antique Gibson which he sold for $ 22,000. .

“The last time Michael and I counted inventory there were over 20,000 titles on the shelves.”

The bookstore has a small but very loyal clientele who come regularly; they are in the 60 to 85 age range and each have their own area of ​​interest. The store has customers who read westerns; others who like everything they can find about the two world wars and others who are looking for titles of romance or mystery.

Michael Cowan – books and people are the two things he knows.

Cowan started out by operating a bookstore in Oakville and moved to Burlington, which has always been viewed as a good book market.

Bob adds that there are fewer buyers; the youngest are not readers and they are not so much true book lovers.

Mike was a generous person, he helped do everything; he was not there to make money. He loved books and he loved people.

The store closes at the end of January. Michael’s brother Rick takes care of the shutdown.

Why a bookstore called Fly By Night. Not exactly the name you would put on the lease application. To do with owls.

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