Beloved bookstore up for sale

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 11/03/2014
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MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
NEW CHAPTER: Peter Rigg and Susi Blackmore outside their shop Page and Blackmore in Trafalgar St. They are putting their business up for sale.

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One of New Zealand's most beloved bookshops is going up for sale for the first time.

Page and Blackmore booksellers has been named New Zealand's Independent Bookseller of the Year twice, and best bookshop in the South Island three times. Today is its first day on the market.

Located in Trafalgar St, Page and Blackmore was founded by two married couples, Susi and Tim Blackmore and Peter and Ann Rigg, in 1998. Each couple already operated a bookstore in Trafalgar St, and the creation of Page and Blackmore was meant as a merger which would put the owners of both Blackmore's Booksellers and Pages Bookshop in a stronger position.

At the time, the Riggs and Blackmores issued a joint note to customers: "The expanded business will combine our strengths as knowledgeable booksellers and specialised magazine and technical book retailers."

"It was actually Tim that just happened to be in our shop one day," Mr Rigg said this morning. "He said, ‘If we ever combined, it'd be an awesome shop."'

The two sets of owners spentmonths scouting for the right location. Mr Rigg said he was alerted to the present building going up for sale by a regular customer of Pages Bookshop, who waited at the counter while Mr Rigg "shot across" and secured it.

Managed by Stella Chrysostomou, Page and Blackmore has flourished through decades which proved to be a bumpy ride for many other bookstores.

In a written statement issued to customers last night, the owners said the shop had shown "welcome growth" over the past year, saying they were confident it was in good health.

"We're also hearing encouraging noises from the trade in general, which seem to indicate that independent bookselling is in better shape than some media pundits would have us believe."

The sale was prompted by personal circumstances in each of the owners' lives. Mr Rigg will reach retirement age next year, while Mr Blackmore has had less involvement with the store since being diagnosed with cancer some years ago. He had found the treatment hard on his health, Mrs Blackmore said: "And now his reward is to do the fulltime course at the Centre for Fine Woodworking, which he started yesterday."

She said she wanted customers to know that she and the other owners wanted to take their time to find the right owner before they sold the store.

She did not rule out selling it to the first inquirer if they proved to be suitable, but affirmed that there would be "no tearing hurry".

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"We're keen to find owners who value the shop.

"It would be terrible if it didn't carry on the way it was, because then we wouldn't have anything to read."

Mr Rigg agreed: "We'll be the best customers."

- Nelson

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