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Shakespeare and Company: Coffee and Used Books opened its doors for the final time during a five-hour final hurrah Friday after three years of business in the community.
Co-owners Karen McSwain and Mo Anderson announced the closure on their company’s Facebook page on July 28, saying the COVID-19 pandemic proved too much to overcome in the past five months. It’s another blow to small businesses locally as the pandemic continues its economic toll on the county and nation.
“It’s been awesome and we’re very thankful,” McSwain said in a phone call on Friday. “This is super hard. We’re devastated in every possible way.”
One bright spot is that McSwain and Anderson also announced they recently signed a one-year lease and prepaid months of rent in advance at their commercial kitchen space on Market Street with the plan to open a social distance-focused brunch cafe in early 2021.
McSwain and Anderson had switched their coffee and bookstore focus to lunch service the past five months to help stay afloat, but Shakespeare and Company didn’t have a stove so they would have to travel to that commercial kitchen space to prepare food and bring it back to customers.
That, paired with a lack of coffee and book sales, proved to be too much to overcome with the pandemic going on.
“We are so grateful to this community for supporting our bookstore/coffeehouse dream, and for respecting our decision to remain in “phase one” for the past five months,” the two said in their Facebook post. “At this juncture, we believe it is wiser to fold and focus on our future business, rather than go down with this ship.”
Surprise book club members will receive a call this week to figure out options for cash refunds or books, and all gift certificates will be honored at McSwain and Anderson’s new brunch cafe, their Facebook post stated.
McSwain and Anderson opened Shakespeare and Company during the summer of 2017 when the two noticed a historic white house on the corner of Pacific Avenue was up for lease. The duo had owned The Pearl Cafe in downtown Chehalis for nearly three years at the time and decided to close it down after the grand opening of Shakespeare and Company to focus solely on their new venture.
But just three years later, the emergence of COVID-19 has caused irreversible financial effects that McSwain and Anderson couldn’t overcome as non-essential businesses were shuttered for months, unemployment rates soared in the county and customers dried up.
McSwain had just one message for the community:
“Tell people who say they support local businesses to get out there and support local businesses,” McSwain said. “Spend their money locally or we’re going to be an Applebee’s world. And please, for the love of god, please don’t pay with a gift certificate. Give these folks your money. We have so many great people who are doing that for us and we have other people who are just coming because we’re closing. In our community, we’re so very small. There are so many people working so hard, there’s so many businesses I love. I spend my money locally.”
Reporter Eric Trent can be reached at email@example.com. Visit chronline.com/business for more coverage of local businesses.