Anthony Phelps / Stuff
Still Books owner Colin Payne put the store on the market earlier this year, but without buyers it had to close.
A second-hand bookshop that has been in Blenheim for more than three decades is closing.
Still Books owner Colin Payne said it was not an easy decision to close and find a place for the store’s 20,000 books, but the “town had changed from Covid”, which was the “last nail in the coffin”.
“It’s not as busy, and during lockdown people have been buying stuff online and when they do it’s hard to get it back…” Payne said. “The foot traffic is less and everything still has to be paid for.”
The Scott St store had been in the market for most of 2022, and while there was some interest, it “never yielded anything”.
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“I’m really disgusted that no one is taking care of him because he’s been my baby for a while. But it’s time to retire,” said Payne, who owned Still Books for 10 years.
The store was having a closing sale, with books costing between $5 and $300, he said.
“There’s a market for old books, especially…interesting regional history and stuff like that, they’ll never be replaced by computers…”We have a New Zealand section with history regional and a lot of people are interested in that sort of thing, and New Zealand writers, writing about life in the outback. We also have a fairly good Antarctic and mountaineering section.
The store had a lot of antique books, with “really interesting antique collectibles” that some people bought “just to make their library look nice,” he said.
Bibliophile Bill McIntyre, who had returned to New Zealand after 20 years in Australia, browsed the books on Monday. He was happy to have unearthed Swagger Country, by Jim Henderson.
“There is something about [a] second-hand bookstore, the more crowded the better because you can find stuff.
“Libraries are good, but I prefer that because if I buy a book, whether it’s new or used, and I like it, I hang on to it. And bookstores with new books are so expensive. I can come here and leave with half a dozen books, so it’s a shame.
“When I first discovered [this] place in Blenheim, I thought “fantastic”, because I love books.
“It’s the second time I’ve been here, and now it’s closing. I don’t know how long it’s going to stay open, but I’ll be back,” McIntyre said.
Payne said the store will close permanently by the end of the month.
Tash Stuart was in the store on Monday with her mother and two daughters Aimee and Charlotte, who left with 13 pounds between them.
“When I saw the ‘closure’ sign I thought it was such a shame, especially for local stores, it’s really sad, but I can understand why they have to do this,” Stuart said.
But Still Books had also become known for its home brewing equipment, a side of the business Payne had developed over the years.
“I developed that part a bit, because it’s one of my interests, I do it myself. But it’s one of the things you can buy online, so we have to maintain our competitive prices.
“A lot of people do, especially with the rising price of alcohol, making your own is a very viable option.
“You can make your own beer, wine and spirits. Most of the trade has actually been people making their own spirits. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where you are allowed to legally make your own spirits.