In the aftermath of flooding caused by Hurricane Irene at the end of August, Bartleby’s Books in Wilmington, Vermont, is planning its reopening. The bookstore was under four feet of water and initially thought to be destroyed, but with the help of family and community members owner Lisa Sullivan plans to have it ready for business before Thanksgiving.
Sullivan, who lost her other bookstore, The Book Cellar in Brattleboro, to a fire last spring, has worked hard to save Bartleby’s. Asked how she was doing, she said, “This has been a long five weeks, but I’m doing okay. I’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the bookselling community and am looking forward to getting Bartleby’s open again.”
Wilmington’s business district had extensive flood damage and is in the process of rebuilding. “This is a tough time for our village. It’s prime tourist season and only six businesses in our village are open, but outside the downtown everything is basically back to normal.”
The bookstore’s entire first floor needs to be redone, said Sullivan. ”We are reframing the front of the store, putting in new windows and doors, new drywall, etc.”
Meanwhile, she’s taking the opportunity to make some improvements. “My husband, Phil Taylor, is doing a fantastic job on renovations, including some work to the exterior that will make the store look much nicer. We are converting some of our second floor space into retail space and will add a staircase to that section…. We’ve also acquired shelves from Borders (partially via their liquidation sale and partially via donation), which we’ll need to install. We still need more displays and, oh yeah, books.”
Renovations include doing what they can to safeguard against future water damage, including using closed cell insulation and putting a new furnace on the second floor.
The village’s residents have helped Bartleby’s and other local businesses from the first stages after the hurricane, when “an army of volunteers showed up.” Sullivan said, “Community support has been incredible. Many other businesses and individuals have also been affected by Irene, but the community has really pulled together in helping one another.”