Downtown Landlord Forcing Webster’s Out
Following news that Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe has just three weeks left in a lease of 128 S. Allen St that will not be renewed, concerned members of the community are organizing meetings and petitions to protest the possible closure of a downtown fixture.
Webster’s owner Elaine Meder-Wilgus posted a notice on the Webster’s Facebook page this morning:
Last week, I was given 30 days notice that our lease at 128 S. Allen Street was being terminated. Webster’s Bookstore Cafe will close on July 30, 2010. All books must go. Sale starts today…Webster’s Cafe on Aaron and Webster’s Catering will remain open for business. Thank you all, Elaine
According to StateCollege.com, Webster’s had been falling behind on its rent payments when property owner Catherine Kresge told Meder-Wilgus that the lease would not be extended; Kresge said she was giving up “a hopeless book business.”
State College Borough Council member Peter Morris sent an email to his supporters explaining Webster’s place in the community,
Webster’s is the heart of downtown. Elaine’s generosity in supporting progressive causes is a legend. That little space in front of the store has been home to dozens of petition-gathering drives. The store is a center for the civic life of this town, and towns without such centers may thrive economically but they die spiritually.
Morris told Onward State that the loss of a central place like Webster’s would be devastating.
Dan Hickey, the creator of the Solidarity for Webster’s Bookstore Cafe Facebook group, reiterated that Webster’s closing would be a big hit to the State College community because “a lot of formal and informal communication goes on there.”
Members of the community are organizing meetings to discuss ways to help Webster’s. An initial organizational meeting will be held tonight by Carol Gold at 5:15 pm in Webster’s to generate ideas. Arthur Goldschmidt and Nuno Ribeiro are holding additional meetings tonight and tomorrow in the basement of Irving’s at 7:00 pm for those interested in creating petitions against the landlord’s decision.
However, it might already be too late for Webster’s to prevent being forced out of 128 S. Allen St. If the Kresge family has a new tenant lined up, Webster’s probably doesn’t have much choice but to pack up come the end of July and find some new digs. Whether Webster’s can survive that eventuality is the most important issue the business will have to address.
Community Organizing Events for Webster’s
Meeting times are as follows:
- 5:15 pm tonight (7/6) at Webster’s downtown location
- 7:00 pm tonight (7/6) at Irving’s downtown location
- 7:00 pm tomorrow (7/7) at Irving’s downtown location