The effects of the pandemic could force the closure of the Westfield bookstore


WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — A Westfield bookstore is hoping to keep its doors open after struggling to make a comeback after the long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the store’s owner is asking the public for help Help.

Blue Umbrella Books in Westfield has been a regular bookshop in town for the past seven years.

“It was a great experience, although it was like a hand-mouth thing and I had to pull rabbits out of my hat just to stay open for so long,” said Russell Atwood, owner of Blue Umbrella Books.

Atwood told Western Mass News that he had to make the difficult decision to close his doors next week due to the long-lasting impact of the closure early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a very difficult decision to choose to close. I think there is still hope for a sequel. That’s why we have the GoFundMe and Donate buttons on my Paypal,” Atwood added. “I feel terrible even as I pretend my bookstore is more important than all these other things out there, but I hope there’s someone out there who thinks a bookstore is really important.”

When we stopped by the store on Friday, we found 10-year-old Emma and her 7-year-old sister, Julia Doherty, from Westfield. They told us they don’t want the bookstore to close.

“There are so many good books out there and we always get in Nana’s bed and read them all,” Julia Doherty said.

Emma Doherty added, “We come here a lot and we find a lot of good books here and I like to read a lot, so we always bring them home and I just start reading.”

Atwood said he’s made renewed efforts to get more deals in recent months.

“For example, we recently introduced vinyl. That brought in a whole new base of customers and younger people and college kids. I do puppet shows, so I created that puppet show vibe with streamers everywhere, and that would draw people in, too,” Atwood noted. “We’re also just giving away books and records in front of our store and asking people to just come in and get something for free, and please come in and maybe buy something for a dollar as well.”

Despite having to close, Atwood said he’s grateful for the people who come into the store and he still has hope that somehow he can keep the small business afloat.

“When families come, that’s great. I love seeing little kids getting excited about books and while it’s been difficult at times, this little thing makes me feel like I’ve been a success, although currently I may or may not want to go out of business,” noted Atwood.


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