TENAFLY - One of the last shops in a chain of bookstores that have been in New York and New Jersey since the 1930s is set to close.
At one point, there were almost 50 Womrath’s Bookstores in the area. New Jersey’s last location will close its doors at the end of June.
The first Womrath’s opened its doors in New York City during the Great Depression. At the time, customers didn’t have to buy books and could rent them for about 5 cents a day.
New Jersey’s last Womrath’s is located in Tenafly. Owner Bob Kutik says that in 1949, his wheelchair-bound World War II veteran father was chosen in a pilot program to receive a franchise.
"The store in Hackensack had lower shelves so he could run the store himself. Wider aisles. He knew nothing about the book business, he knew he liked to read,” Kutik says.
The family moved the shop to the Tenafly location in 2002.
Kutik says that although the business was able to withstand challenges like large bookstore chains and superstores, the internet and e-books hurt the business.
"That really just changed the way we do business. Our business ended up from its heyday down 20 percent because of the internet and kindle,” he says.
Customers say that they are sad to see the shop go, and that it was a fixture in the community.
"When my granddaughter was younger, they had a story hour here and I used to bring her in for the story hour,” says customer Sande Eck.
Kutik says that he hopes other independent book stores will continue the fight.
After it closes, the Womrath’s location will be rented out to an Arthur Murray dance studio.