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Downtown Bookstore Owner Retiring, Hopes Story Continues

By Cece Nunn, posted May 23, 2017
A reading nook at Two Sisters Bookery. The business, located at The Cotton Exchange in downtown Wilmington, is for sale. (Photo courtesy of Two Sisters Bookery)
A new chapter is in the works for a longtime Wilmington bookstore.

Two Sisters Bookery, at 318 Nutt St. in The Cotton Exchange, is for sale again, for the fourth time in the independent bookstore and gift shop's nearly 40-year history.

Current owner Barbara Galvin, who worked for Barnes & Noble for 15 years before buying Two Sisters Bookery in 2011, said she's ready to retire and spend some time traveling.

"It was my dream always to have my own book store, and I've loved every minute of it," Galvin said Tuesday.

The price for the business will be about $42,000, not including the store's inventory, said Joan Loch, a broker with MoMentum Companies, who is marketing the business for sale.

Loch said Galvin has built up the social media presence of Two Sisters Bookery, including Facebook posts that typically get anywhere from 500 to 1,800 views. Last year, Galvin launched a new website for the store. Independent booksellers rely on social media and other strategies to compete with national chain stores and online marketplaces, Loch said.

"Retail alone can be challenging, but in this day of technology, the bookstore and the independent bookstore owners are doing things a little bit different. They have a lot more author events and they also complement their business with gifts and accessories that are book-related or for the type of person who likes to read," Loch said.

The 1,250-square-foot space that Two Sisters Bookery occupies is leased and belongs to the owners of The Cotton Exchange, where the bookstore has been located since 1977, said Loch and Galvin.

According to news stories about previous sales, sisters Mary House and Wanda Cagiano bought the business in the 1990s, when it was called The Bookery and added "Two Sisters" to the name. Galvin bought the business from Brooks Preik, author of Haunted Wilmington and the Cape Fear Coast, and her daughter, Angela Carr.

Galvin's customer base includes tourists and regulars. When potential book buyers in the store say they can get a title online, Galvin's response is, "If you buy it right now, you have instant gratification." She also points out that 85 percent of the money the store makes stays in the local economy, including helping to feed the store's famous cat, an 8-year-old calico named Katie.

In addition to reader-friendly gifts, journals and popular books, Galvin also carries titles from local and regional authors.

"I hope they'll sell things here that they don't see in other places," Galvin said of whoever the new owner might be.

Galvin's Facebook post about the sale on Monday had already netted inquiries by Tuesday.

Owning the store, "would be a great job for someone who is a reader . . . when you open a book, you can be anywhere in the world. I try to give that feeling of excitement about reading to people," Galvin said.

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