No co-op, but Turning page has new owner

A staff member of The Turning Page bookshop has decided to buy the business.

The business have been for sale since about September 2019. When it didn't sell for the right price, a group of locals tried to turn it into Australia's only co-operative bookshop with shares of $100 each up for grabs.

But recently the owners Annie Sharkey and Alan Crooks accepted her offer for the store.

The new proprietor is Peggy Miedlar, a Blue Mountains local who has more than 20 years in the bookselling industry and has been "a valued staff member of the shop since July 2020" they said.

The sale is expected to complete by June.

The couple said they had been "actively involved with the committee ... and we are sad that the co-operative plan did not work out as we, and the committee had hoped, and at the same time happy and excited to be able to hand over the business to Peggy's very capable hands."

"We are very confident that these values will continue under the new ownership as the shop celebrates its 38th birthday this year."

Ms Miedlar calls her decision "fantastic and terrifying ... I've not owned a bookshop before".

Ms Miedlar was a book buyer for Lagardere Travel Retail Pacific for 23 years, before being made redundant during COVID last year. She was worried the store was in danger of closing down because not enough shares had been sold, so decided to "pool resources" with her family to purchase it for an undisclosed sum. With her family she had bought 50 shares collectively in the co-op.

"I promise there won't be more airport blockbusters on the shelves at The Turning Page Bookshop than there already are!" she added.

Co-op chair, Virginia Fortunat, said they would disband the co-op and refund memberships by the end of this financial year.

They sold almost 1400 shares with 849 members.

In an email to members late last month, the directors of The Turning Page Co-operative said they had been "informed that the owners of The Turning Page Bookshop have accepted an offer from a private buyer. A counter offer is not a feasible option for the co-operative."

Ms Fortunat thanked members for their support and asked them to be patient "as dismantling the co-operative and reconciling the accounts will take time ... these next steps will be undertaken by the co-operative and not The Turning Page Bookshop".

They are giving members the option to direct their $100 share fee to the co-operative wind-up costs and as a donation to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, in lieu of a refund.

"Since our first meeting, we have received nothing but support from our community and book-lovers across the country.

There was a passionate and excited belief in the co-operative option, she said.

The proposal would have seen the country's only co-operative bookshop here in the Blue Mountains."

Ms Fortunat said the "happy news is that the bookshop will stay open for the community".

A new loyalty program will be introduced on July 1, which will reward customers faster and enable them to redeem their loyalty benefits without the use of physical vouchers.

"Any existing loyalty vouchers will be valid until the end of June this year so Annie and Alan are asking customers to come into the store and redeem them as soon as possible," Ms Miedlar said.. "They would also love to see familiar faces to say thank you for the loyalty and friendships made over the years."

Ms Miedlar added the bookshop "team and I will continue to provide the warm, personal service our loyal community have come to cherish, and where they gather to share their love of reading and pass on the joy of books to future generations".