What we said when we closed

This was originally posted in June of 2014

To every thing there is a season…

Azizi Books is closing!

When I set on this journey, knowing well the vagaries of running a bookstore, I surmised that our lifespan would be fortunate to exceed three to five years. We made it for six and a half years. We opened Azizi Books in the fall of 2007, not anticipating the subsequent financial collapse. Our decision to locate in Lincoln Mall was grounded in the belief that it was going to rebound and we thought it a great opportunity to create a quality independent business in our community. Initially things were tough, but we weathered the storm. We persisted, carved out a niche and proudly strode toward retail relevancy.

There were several highlights along our path. We hosted some well known authors, and some not so well known. The beautiful thing that resulted from these events is the joy that occurs when the writer gets to meet the reader, and vice versa, and a connection is affirmed. Great times were had, as well, when we entertained our youngest readers with storytelling, crafts and special appearances for their delight.

My most precious reward, while serving as a steward of literacy, was to become friend to so many wonderful, creative and interesting people.

…seasons change…

Unfortunately, the circumstances of a declining mall, with no credible outlook, hampers our ability to succeed. We considered many options over the last year and, without significant financial resources, none of them have been feasible. We watched our support erode dramatically after the Village of Matteson brought attention to its frustration with the current mall owner. Since then, we have seen consistently less and less traffic. Clearly, many community residents no longer felt the need or desire to shop here. That is unfortunate. While the big name stores have abandoned the mall, there are still stores here, many of which are owned by your neighbors – independent entrepreneurs, like myself.

There are many factors for our decision. Economics, technology and market maladies served to disrupt our existence. We acknowledge that location is a big factor – location, location, location. Without adequate sales, we could not continue to exist. However, we don’t believe the hype. People still buy real books. Over 50% of all books sold are physical copies. Everyone doesn’t buy online. And knowing that money is still spent on other discretionary items, everyone’s not broke. The biggest burden for us to overcome is the reluctance of shoppers willing to come into this mall, even for us. We struggled to find a marketing message powerful enough to overcome that obstacle. We are disappointed that we were not successful in becoming relevant enough in the minds of the consuming public for them to consciously choose to shop here. It’s sad to think that there will be no independent bookstore in the south suburbs of Chicago.

I frequently champion the cause of local economic empowerment. The power to effect change starts with you and comes from within. We each have the power to create the world that we seek. It is my intention to continue promoting this message. It’s up to us.

In the meantime, we will continue to serve you online at www.azizibooks.biz. You can order from us with a discount on most books, and a purchase there continues to support us as we make this transition.

We will be having an inventory clearance sale immediately, so please come in and find something of interest to you. It’s a great opportunity to stock your library with some of the fantastic books we’ve accumulated. Don’t wait or you will miss out on the best selection. We anticipate our last day will be June 19, 2014.

To everyone who supported us in spirit and in deed, thank you.

Kevin Roberts and the Roberts family

4 thoughts on “What we said when we closed

    1. Hey Troy,

      Thanks for checking. Unfortunately, nothing has changed about the bookstore, which remains closed. Our ordeal with the mall extracted much. However, it caused me to understand my need to effect change in a different way. So this site will become a platform for some of those ideas. Azizi Books did manage to create a community, or, perhaps, a constituency. I will draw focus on some important issues to foster a consciousness that values literacy, entrepreneurship and cultural awareness. Stay tuned.

      Kevin Roberts

      1. OK Kevin keep me posted, or better yet, when the new site has launched post the information on our discussion forum: http://aalbc.com/tc/

        I’m actually working on a new site of my own, completely overhauling the old website, it is a massive effort, but the results look promising–all I (we) need are readers 🙂

  1. I found myself searching for your site for a business reason, I was given a gift card to your store that had yet to be used. Yet I found a vital story evolving around the deterioration of a successful and thriving business community – Matteson and all its other rich surrounding municipalities. For years I often thought how we allowed this community to have major businesses move westward and not demand our politicians, business owners and the community as a whole to take a strong position for commerce, tax revenue and much sought after consumers to frequent the community. I agree with you whole heartily it is an issue we must all address.

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