One of the oldest businesses in Douglas County is selling off Hallmark cards, office furniture, card stock, pens and everything the series of owners collected over the last 110 years as it prepares to close it’s doors.
Roseburg Book & Stationery opened in 1910 in downtown Roseburg, surviving the Great Depression, two recessions, the rise of big box stores and the rise of internet shopping. Owner Jason Byers said despite pouring money into it for the last five years and trying to shift with the economy, he has to liquidate and close the store.
“This store just isn’t generating enough money to sustain itself,” Byers said. “You just can’t keep doing that. I kept thinking that once the construction was over, it would come back and make the store something more relevant than it was and people would come. Since then, it is a ghost town,” Byers said. “Ever since the construction downtown, it has never come back for us. Of course, the embezzlement doesn’t help either.”
Construction downtown just finished in the summer of 2018 and started in July 2015. It was cited as the reason for business moving and closing, including The Daily Grind Café in 2016, which was on the corner of Jackson Street and Douglas Avenue.
Byers made the announcement public with a letter to commercial employees on Tuesday.
“We literally have been a part of everyone’s life here,” Byers wrote. “I can say that as the owner its [sic] such a gift to be so significant in our customers [sic] lives. Sadly, this will be my last invitation to you all to come in to Roseburg Book & Stationery.”
Byers was a frequent visitor to the store with his mother when he was a child. He worked there for a summer after he graduated from Roseburg High School in 1995. He spent a few years outside of Douglas County and came back around 2012, around the time his former bosses and the business owners, Gary and Janice Quist were thinking about selling.
Byers worked for the Quists for two years and bought the business in 2014.
“It’s time for new blood to take it further,” Janice Quist told the News Review in 2014. “Just like we had the energy to move it forward 20 years ago, now Jason has the energy to go further with it. It’s time for us to move on and let it be his.”
Now the Quists say they are hurt by the fact that the store is closing.
“It’s devastating and it’s very hurtful for us,” Janice Quist said. “We don’t want to see it, we don’t want to watch it. That store was very profitable. This is devastating to see a business that was such a landmark go away.”
Gary Quist worked at the store for 20 years before buying it from the original family in 1993.
“When we left it, it was a very profitable store,” Gary Quist said. “I wish the owner the best of luck, but it’s really hard on us. We put our heart and soul into it.
“To see it go — we thought we left it in good hands.”
Byers said seeing the store close was never part of his plan and he is also sad to see it close. He’s paid off his debts to the Quists, who have rented the building to him.
“It’s been a tremendous amount of pressure because Roseburg Book has been around for over a century,” Byers said. “I feel like ever since I bought the store, I’ve been under a microscope of sorts. Then, of course, just the regular pressures you put on yourself.”
The last day to order supplies for businesses is Thursday and all furniture orders will discontinue immediately unless otherwise in process according to the letter. He is pulling out all of the back stock, including old memorabilia for liquidation, to clear out by the end of March.
“You would not believe the amount of the stuff that has been stored in this building 110 years,” Byers said. “There are lots of antiques that are of course hard to let go of because they’ve been a part of the store for so long. A lot of things we are selling are things people will never be able to buy again.
It’s pretty cool,” he continued. “We’ve got stuff from just about every era and it’s stuff I always enjoyed looking at. I’m hoping it will mean enough to someone else out there that they would be interested in purchasing it.”
Byers said he’s put money from his own savings into the store every year since he’s had it. He’s enjoyed his time in the store, even with the ghosts shaking things up, and he’s sad see it close.
“It’s been tough from several different angles including the feeling of letting my employees down,” Byers said. “It’s a horrible feeling. It’s sad for all of us,” Byers took a deep breath. “It’s hard all the way around.”