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Bookstores Merge Operations in Downtown Montpelier

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by Ashley Witzenberger

MONTPELIER — Main Street in downtown Montpelier has long been anchored with two independent bookstores, Rivendell Books and Bear Pond Books, owned by husband-and-wife team Rob Kasow and Claire Benedict. Benedict and Kasow moved to Montpelier in 2002 to purchase Rivendell Books. In 2006 they bought Bear Pond Books to continue the life of the store that originally opened in 1973.

Rivendell’s shelves are stocked with shrewdly curated titles both old and new. As the official bookstore for the New England Culinary Institute, they carry a wide selection of high-quality cookbooks. Bear Pond Books is known for their author events, three book clubs (the Mystery Book Club, the Not-Just-Fiction Book Club and the Graphic Novel Club) and the “crown jewel,” the Children’s Room on the second floor.

The changes begin on March 14. Rivendell will close its doors and the two stores will merge into one at the Bear Pond location at 77 Main St. On March 22, Bear Pond Books will close temporarily to allow the books from Rivendell to be moved to Bear Pond and to rearrange the layout to accommodate the additional inventory. According to Benedict, “Merging the two stores was always something we planned. There is no such thing as too many books.”

The staff from Rivendell will join the staff at Bear Pond Books. Kasow will be in charge of the used book inventory and Benedict of new inventory. In the new layout customers will find new and used books together on the shelves. Kasow and Benedict look forward to offering their customers more choice and a wider variety of books and other items, all while being more efficient and reducing overhead costs. They will also resume buying used books by appointment only at Bear Pond the first week of April.

On March 1 a 50 percent storewide sale began at Rivendell, and books are moving fast. The couple is putting out a call for volunteers for Sunday, March 22 to help with moving the inventory from Rivendell to Bear Pond.

In addition to moving the books from Rivendell, a new reading nook for kids will be built at Bear Pond while it is closed. The nook is made possible with a James Patterson grant award. Bear Pond Books will reopen and unveil the changes during the week of March 23. The grand opening celebration will take place on Saturday, April 4 and will be marked with a book sale, food and other fun happenings. There may even be some surprises in store for customers when Bear Pond reopens.

“We’re very excited about this next phase in Bear Pond’s life. You can never get static in retail, you have to keep changing and adapting to the changing marketplace. We think merging Rivendell and Bear Pond will enable us to stay on top of those changes and make sure that Montpelier has a great independent bookstore for years to come” says Benedict.

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