The Open Door Bookstore Celebrates 40 Years

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Janet Hutchison, co-owner of The Open Door Bookstore, located in downtown Schenectady, New York, has planned her store’s anniversary festivities around the year it opened – 1971. There will be a large display called “What was going on in the world in 1971,” which compiles noteworthy events that occurred throughout the year. To give the display a more personal feel, staff members are bringing in pictures of themselves from that year, and they’ve been asking prominent people in the community what they were doing in ’71.

“I think that will be really fun for people to peruse through,” said Hutchison.

Open Door started as a 500-square-foot children’s bookstore and gift gallery, originally owned by Betty Fleming. The store expanded over the years to 3,000 square feet and is now a general bookstore, with the gift gallery offering toys, jewelry, cards, and other items.

Hutchison, who was a children’s librarian in 1971, met Fleming through the library. “She was always coming in for references,” Hutchison said. In 1983, Hutchison started working in the store, and eventually purchased it with her husband, John.

Open Door’s 40th anniversary party, which will take place on May 13, is “pretty similar to the format we’ve used every five years,” said Hutchison. Local authors and community members will be invited to join the celebration that benefits The Literacy Volunteers, a local nonprofit literacy organization. A suggested $5 donation can be made at the door, and a percentage of the days sales will go toward the organization as well.

“We’re going to amp it up a little bit this year though, since it’s our 40th,” Hutchison said.

In addition to the 1971 displays, the event will feature an impressive lineup of about 25 local authors who will be available to chat with customers and sign books. Hutchison has also asked members of the community their favorite thing about the bookstore, from which she compiled a list of “40 Reasons to Shop at Open Door.”

The store has continued to grow throughout the years, said Hutchison. Open Door now sells Google eBooksTM through the store’s IndieCommerce website and does a lot of marketing through its Facebook page. It also books as many author events as possible.

“I think we’re doing what every other independent bookstore is trying to do,” she said. “Which is a little bit of everything.”