HUNT VALLEY, Md. — After 49-years of serving the Baltimore community, Greetings & Readings in Hunt Valley will be closing its doors next month.
The near half-century old retailer has endured many changes over the years including changing locations, consumer habits and product trends. The owners say while this was a tough decision, it was not longer sustainable to stay open.
In 2005, Greeting & Readings opened their new location in the Hunt Valley Towne Center, making it the largest independent book and gift store in Baltimore.
"We realize that we are impacting the lives of our 80 employees, the community and our own families,” states Steven Baum, president of the store. “We began to see sales decline by 1 to 3% starting with the recession of 2008 and we were always able to change product lines to compensate - this year sales are off 15%. The cost to cut this space down, in this retail environment, would never be recouped. We have worked with brokers to secure a possible buyer or a merger, but that did not yield any interest. Our family has continued to put personal money into the business - but there comes a point where you’ve explored every avenue and you need to make the hard, but inevitable, decision to close the doors,” continues Baum.
And partner and vice-president Steve Spund says the weather also has to do with the decline in customers,
"This year we have exceeded the all-time record for the most precipitation ever. When the rain comes, traffic disappears. Snow flurries make the shopping centers desolate except for the food stores. In past years, you could make up some of the drop off, but now when the weather is bad people just shop online.”
The company also says that online retailers like Amazon have also contributed to putting them out of business.
“There is little comfort in seeing fellow independent retail stores forced to close their doors,” said Spund. “We’re beginning to see larger national chain stores, unable to cover their costs and impacted by shifts in consumer buying habits, having to close their doors. I have to say it’s been a pleasure to be part of the Hunt Valley Towne Centre since it opened in 2005 - we’ve really appreciated working with Greenberg Gibbons, landlords that really care about their merchants and the community. As difficult as times have been, what always brings a smile to my face is the positive, daily comments from our wonderful customers on how much they love G&R - that’s what makes this decision so hard for our family,” explains Spund.
The store is hosting a grand finale sale until they close their doors on January 20, 2019.