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Well-known Branson bookstore closing doors due to pandemic challenges, rent spike

Updated: May. 23, 2021 at 9:03 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Calvin’s Used Books owner Heidi Sampson said the bookstore faced tough financial struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a recent rent spike leaves them with no other choice but to walk away from their business.

Longtime customer Victoria Shepard said she was shocked when she heard the news.

“I was ready to cry. I mean, that’s like the only bookstore now in Branson,” said Shephard.

Shepard said her kids are bookworms and she’s been taking them to Calvin’s Used Books since they were little. But it wasn’t just books her kids were there to see.

”At that time, Calvin was actually just a little cat, so they would spend time visiting with the cat and browsing the books. It was really nice because we could afford these books,” Shepard said.

Owner Heidi Sampson said the decision to walk away from the business after nearly 30 years in business wasn’t easy.

”This last rent increase on top of last year, and the uncertainty of this next year, was just too much,” Heidi Sampson said.

Sampson said the store had to close down during the peak of the pandemic.

”But, of course bills still need to be paid and that pretty much dried up whatever reserve we had,” Sampson said.

She said her team is now rushing to clear the shelves because they have to be moved out of the store by May 31, 2021.

Now, she is reflecting on the memories created at the bookstore.

”We had just started getting the third generation into the store. The kids that grew up here are now bringing their kids and some of my best friends I have made through the store,” Sampson said.

Customers like Victoria Shepard said its the warmth from employees like Heidi that she will miss the most.

”There’s the library and there’s the used section in the library where I can buy books, but it’s not quite the same as what Calvin’s was,” Shepard said.

Sampson said although the transition won’t be easy, she’s thankful for the customers who have supported them this long.

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