WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- An independent book store in Westfield is fighting to stay open.
The combination of online shopping and the growing popularity of digital books is partly to blame for their struggle, but after being presented with an eviction notice, the store owner is finding unique ways to keep the lights on and bring the community together before it's too late.
Blue Umbrella Book Store, located in downtown Westfield, is one of the few independent book stores left in western Massachusetts.
"I have books on the Holocaust and civil rights that are no longer on the shelves of a local library, but they are here and you can read about that, so we are kind of getting a treasure of other people," said Russell Atwood, owner of Blue Umbrella Books.
However, now the store is in jeopardy of shutting down for good.
"I mean I'm actually right this second, I'm facing an eviction notice. I'm facing three months back rent that we owe. Ya, I definitely need to raise $3,945 by the end of the month or else I have to go to court and argue this thing," Atwood said.
Atwood told Western Mass News in the meantime, Blue Umbrella Books is coming up with new ways to attract customers and stay open.
"We do a lot of events, children readings, a ghost story show once a month and things like that," Atwood explained.
Not only is Blue Umbrella Books doing all they can to keep their doors open, but book lovers are now stepping up to help out.
"Right now, we are doing a buy-one, get-one free sale and a local woman said 'I want to sponsor this, so I will put up the money for all the books they get for free," Atwood noted.
Atwood said a combination of online book sales, Audibles, and digital books are partly to blame for the stores struggle.
"The last three Christmases, I made three months rent just the Christmas season and this year, I made one month’s rent," Atwood said.
Also, offering discounted books in a popular downtown location with high rent isn't helpful either.
"It's interesting that because I'm a used book store and I’m serving the community, a lot of ways, I have to price according to my customers, so when I have a young mother come in with two kids, make sure they get a good deal on their books," Atwood said.
However, Atwood isn't giving up. He is hopeful the events and community will help Blue Umbrella Books stay open for generations to come.
"One of the nicest things, especially with the kids events, when the kids are excited about getting the books and that's great. There’s a generation coming along that’s getting rid of the cell phones and wants to read a book again," Atwood noted.
If you want to help Blue Umbrella Books stay open, you can learn about a GoFundMe here.