Save our Shops: Final chapter for Mosman book store Pages & Pages as retail casualties continue to grow.
By ANNA USHER.
I’m a parent. And like all parents, life is busy.
From the moment the alarm slaps us awake each morning, it’s a race against time to try and find more time in the day.
Stick with me here people. You know the drill:
Get the kids out of bed and into their school uniforms.
Pack the rugby gear, the netball gear, the swimming gear, the dance gear, the tennis gear.
Let the dog outside for a pee.
Pop a load of washing on, prepare breakfast, pack lunch boxes.
Unpack dishwasher. Repack dishwasher.
Shower. Faff about looking for clean clothes. Sip another cup of cold tea.
Check phone. Damn, it’s on 1%. Scream at teenager for stealing the charger. Again.
Scramble to the car. Fuel tank empty. Make detour to petrol station.
Drops kids to school late. Grab take-away coffee. Head off to real job. Exhale.
In this crazy, messed up, sleep deprived jumble of work, life and family, it’s little wonder why we gravitate towards anything that makes life easier.
Take for example, Pages & Pages Booksellers.
If you’re a parent like me, the indie book store, in the heart of Mosman, has taken the stress out of book shopping for two decades.
I’ve been a regular visitor over the years, mainly to purchase for my kids. With three of them at different ages - and stages – Pages & Pages has always given me what Amazon can’t: Good, old fashioned, face-to-face customer service. And dedicated, knowledgeable, staff.
Forget the internet’s free shipping and cheaper prices, I don’t want to sift through 40 million Google results that show up, when my youngest searches for “unicorn stories” or “books about worms”. Nor do I have the time.
In my mind, Pages & Pages has always been the store we can rely on. Not only has it been the place to grab a latest new release, it’s also come in handy (on more than one occasion) when searching for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas or birthday gifts.
My kids even have Pages & Pages to thank for being able to read. Not surprising given the amount of time we spent there over the years - and the regular visits definitely helped foster an early passion for books.
I can remember the days, not so long ago, when I’d wheel the pram off the footpath and into Mosman Arcade, hang a left at the rear of Penny’s (in between the back of their store and the carcass laden cool room), and enter a second shop, leased by Pages & Pages, which housed the Children’s Section.
“Pages & pages has always given me what amazon can’t: good, old fashioned, face-to-face customer service.”
- ANNA USHER.
If you popped in on a Saturday during the early 2000’s, it always seemed a bit like a tiny-human zoo, with hyped up kids rifling through shelves for the latest Harry Potter, always inevitably sold out.
There was often a queue to get to the cash register - and with “tap-and-go” a mere twinkle in the eye of its creator, you’d wait patiently in line, before making a cash transaction.
Booming book sales gave Pages & Pages real pulling power with publishers, and for a long time it delivered some truly unique experiences, for local readers of all ages.
Who could forget the after-school events for kids, with the likes of Morris Gleitzman and Jackie French? Or the author talks at Mosman Library? And what about those Bathers Pavilion lunches, where we actually came face-to-face with celebrity chefs like Rick Stein and Antonio Carluccio?
For a conservative village business like Pages & Pages, they were the glory years.
So, what happened?
Well, somewhere along the way, thanks to our time-poor lives, it seems many of us stopped making regular visits to the friendly little book shop on Military Rd.
No longer was there room in our day to browse through beautiful book covers or get lost in the store’s quiet cosiness before school pick up.
Life just got too busy. Reading habits have changed. Rent costs are too high.
It proved to be the perfect storm for Pages & Pages.
Sadly, they’re not alone.
The store’s impending closure, announced this week, has definitely rocked the community. And when Pages & Pages shuts the door for the final time on August 30, it will follow the same fate of other local casualties, like Arena’s, Pasta Zu and Scoot Kids.
Pages & Pages owner Jon Page said this week that “a looming recession” drove the heart-breaking decision to close the shop.
“We have fought the rise and rise of online shopping and we met the challenge of e-books head on,” he said in a Facebook post this week.
“We have adapted and innovated to all the changes that have occurred to bookshops over the last 25 years.
“However, we have weathered one storm too many and we have decided that now is the best time to wind the business down before it becomes too late to leave on our own terms.
“The retail recession, changing consumer behaviour, rent costs, rising wages and business debt have all reached a point where renewing our current lease is too risky a proposition.”
Small business is the backbone of the community. Local store owners support Mosman – and the lower north shore – through employment, sponsorship, donations to schools and sports clubs, and by employing our kids.
So, when much loved shops, like Pages & Pages, are left with no option but to close, it’s a major loss for everyone.
Now, perhaps more than ever before, small business owners need our help.
Shop local. Buy local. Support local.