NEW MILFORD – Bank Street Book Nook, a quintessential bookshop at the center of the historic district for 30 years, has two new owners.
Terry and Chris Sherrer, a husband and wife team from Brookfield, just reopened the independent bookstore last week.
They hope readers of all ages will continue to embrace the business and discover a world of books inside their doors.
This retro bookshop, known for carrying thousands of books on its shelves, across all genres, offers it all – from top-selling mainstream books by the large publishers to unique, hard-to-find books by small imprints.
The Sherrers, who are both avid readers, bought the Bank Street Book Nook a few weeks ago from Vanessa and David Gronbach, the former mayor of New Milford.
Vanessa Gronbach also managed the bookstore for four years, and in early January, she posted a heartfelt announcement on their social media business page about how they were looking for a new owner. Otherwise, they would close the bookstore in February.
Once Terry Sherrer read the post, she immediately asked her husband if he would like to buy a bookstore with her. “Without hesitation, Chris said, sure,” she said.
Less than two months later, the couple can’t wait to get started. “It’s an adventure and we’re excited. We’re always in bookstores whenever we’re on vacation,” she said. “We’ve always talked about opening a business together and now we own one.”
Chris Sherrer added, “it has such a good vibe and we shop in the historic district all the time. It’s Bank Street, which is a community all on its own.”
Vanessa Gronbach said they sold the business to the Sherrers because they can take the bookshop to the next level. “They have a lot of interest in the store, are enthusiastic and have great ideas. It’s what the store needs and I’m really excited for them,” she said.
“Our business is going to grow. It’s all about books and entertainment and we’re going to make it a very positive place to be. We want our customers to visit us one month later and always see something new,” said Chris Sherrer.
The mix in the store will remain broad – one-third adult, one-third young adult and one-third children’s books. However, the new co-owners are making some changes that are already underway.
Overall, they’re repairing and enhancing the charming 800-square foot interior of the brick and wood row building. The children’s section will be completely redone and updated. They’re also adding train tracks around the ceiling to give extra movement and animation to the Lionel trains that are already in operation.
They plan to change the displays every season so there’s always something fresh to see as well.
“We want people to come in and go ‘wow’ and we want them to come back,” said Terry Sherrer.
The couple will keep their full-time jobs. Terry Sherrer works at i95 WRKI and she’ll manage the bookstore when she’s not at the radio station. Chris Sherrer is an estimator for Ridgefield Supply, a lumbermill, and he’ll help with the bookshop, too.
Michael Langit, the couple’s youngest adult child out of three, will be working at the store full-time. They’re also retaining a part-time employee, Polly Stott, who’s a beloved children’s book story reader, too.
Terry Sherrer has written a few children’s books and plans to publish them soon. She envisions reading them to a captive audience in her own bookstore one day.
The new owners will continue to bring in a steady flow of local authors for book readings and signings, like the bestselling children’s book and adult fiction author, Nan Rossiter of New Milford, and the well-known children’s book author, Billy Steers of Roxbury, who wrote the “Tractor Mac” series.
They plan to bring in authors from all over the state, too, like Michelle Gervais, who just published “Design Your Garden Toolkit.”
Vanessa Gronbach shared the history of the bookstore. She said it first opened three decades ago at 50 Bank Street. It was then known as Baileywick Books and Blanche Bailey was the owner who still comes in to visit the store.
In 2006, Bailey sold the business and the property to Janet Olsen Ryan and her husband. She ran the bookstore for seven years until she and her husband decided to sell the building.
Then, in February of 2014, the Gronbachs bought the business and leased the space. A few years ago, they decided to move the bookstore to 40 Bank Street. “Forty percent of our sales are special order, and we didn’t need the large space,” she said.
The Gronbachs bought the bookstore as a hobby and they also didn’t want to see it close. They decided to sell it because their law practice in town is growing, and they want to spend more time with their three children.
Now, the Sherrers are adding a fourth chapter to this indie bookstore story and they just signed a new two-year lease with 36 Bank Street LLC.
The commonality with all of the Bank Street Book Nook owners seems to be a love of books and a certain satisfaction that comes along with it when they share their lives, and the bookstore, with a community of readers who enjoy turning the pages.
Did you know?
- 1,757 independent bookselling companies run 2,321 stores in the US.
- Over 687 million printed books were sold in the US last year.
- US bookstore sales reached almost $10.73 billion in 2017.
This feature and photos by Alicia Sakal originally appeared online and in the Business section of the February 27 edition of Republican-American, a regional daily newspaper in 36 towns and cities in Litchfield County and Greater Waterbury, Connecticut.
(Now out of business.)