Photos by Shawn Nowlin
After being a staple in the Salem community for more than thirty years, Givens Books officially closed their doors on July 1. Scott Cavendish and his wife Courtney ran the store since June of 2015 and said a lack of overall interest was a “huge part” in the closing of Givens Books.
“The primary issue we discovered was that students were not selling their books back to us enough to keep us stocked,” Scott said. “Since the majority of our revenue was from textbooks, it had become very difficult to stock the inventory we needed.”
The evolution of textbook apps like “CourseSmart” and “CampusBooks” also played a role in the store closing. “Despite our prices being significantly cheaper than the competition, we just weren’t able to consistently be competitive,” Courtney said. Research indicates that book stores are closing nationwide for similar reasons.
“While it’s true that our industry is diminishing, we did not rely heavily on our general inventory (non-textbook) revenue to keep us going,” Scott said. “On any given day, we could see anywhere from ten to twenty people wanting to sell us their general books (novels, encyclopedias, etc.).”
According to the Cavendish’s, original owners Chip and Susan Givens are at ease with the decision to close the business. “They made it clear that they were not surprised by the events leading up to our closing. In fact, before we took over the operation, there was much discussion about whether or not the store was worth continuing,” Scott said. “We were agreed that, best case scenario, the store would likely only last another five years.”
Scott and Courtney have learned that just because a business enjoys a lot of success one year, that doesn’t necessary mean that it will carry over to the next. “The end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 was our best period in terms of revenue. Shortly thereafter, students became more aware of our competitors and began using them more for selling their textbooks back,” Scott said.
A future liquidation sale is being discussed to get rid of the thousands of books currently on the stands.
All four former owners say the relationships with the community is what they will miss most about Givens Books. Despite the closing, Scott says he is grateful for those who supported over the years.
“Salem and Roanoke have been so loving to us that I feel terrible for them in their loss of a wonderful local landmark,” he said. “I’ve met so many lovely people while at the store. I will greatly miss being so intimately involved in the education of students entering college.”