Nearly three decades after opening their first Durham location, the owners of Nice Price Books are closing the 811 Broad Street store, operating there since 2001. Co-owner Cindy Kamoroff says the store will not re-open in another location. Instead, she and her husband, Barry Blanchette, are retiring from the used-book-store business they started in 1987 in Carrboro. Blanchette and Kamoroff say they expect the Durham store to close around the end of May.
She says she'll miss the community that's built up around the store.
"It's been a real locus of culture and social interactions for us, with our employees," says Kamoroff. "We've worked with some really great people who've gone on to be really interesting and successful in the community. It's a hard thing to let go of that."
Those people have included Superchunk's Jim Wilbur (who still runs internet sales from Asheville) and Jon Wurster; former Squirrel Nut Zipper Tom Maxwell; Beauty Operators bassist (and INDY
classifieds sales manager) Leslie Land; and Durham filmmaker and activist Rodrigo Dorfman.
Blanchette also expressed sorrow over closing Nice Price.
"You know, I've been deformed by the business," he says. "I love that business."
The reasons for shuttering the last store should be familiar to any longtime small business owners. Both partners have aging parents that need special attention. Blanchette's getting close to retirement age. Their original Carrboro store closed in 2013. They sold the Raleigh store, the third in their Triangle chain, to employees that same year. And Cindy now has another career, as a realtor for Peak, Swirles and Cavallito.
"The combination of aging parents and unalloyed hard work is just too much for us to continue," says Barry.
"I was ready to do something different," says Kamoroff. "Thirty years of seven days a week from ten-to-nine is a long time. It's really a matter of us needing to move on to the next stage of our lives."
The owners were unable to line up a successor to take over Nice Price.
"I attempted to sell it to numerous people," says Blanchette. "And anybody who had the money did not want the store. And anybody that wanted the store did not have the money."
With a laugh, Kamoroff adds that somebody would really need to spare a lot of "energy and effort" for it.
"It's a difficult business," she says. "It's not usually profitable. We've been able to keep going, because we've had experience at it. We're able to control our overhead by working like dogs."
The recent popularity spike for vinyl recordings, and the store's huge stock of used LPs helped a bit, but not enough.
"We always used to be one of the few places," she says. "But, now, other people do it. It's a whole bunch of people chasing the same small pile."
The couple will lease the Broad Street property, and Kamoroff says she's close to inking a deal on that. She can only say it won't be a similar type of business.
Alert bloggers at NinthStreetWatch tweeted back on March 7 that Papa John's had received administrative approval from the city to add a franchise at the site, according to city records:
Reached by phone, Kamoroff says she can "neither confirm not deny" that Papa John's will end up at 811 Broad Street. She reiterated that she's still bound by confidentiality from commenting further.