By WENDY CORSI STAUB
When my longtime friend Patty Donovan shared with me the news that the Book Nook would be closing its doors forever at the end of this month, I felt as though I had lost a beloved family member.
As a childhood bookworm and a budding author, I spent every spare moment - and every spare babysitting dollar - at the Book Nook. I'll never forget how thrilled I was to become a part of the store when Mr. Pelletter and Patty hired me to work there as a teenager.
Long after I moved away to New York City, I continued to shop at the Book Nook whenever I returned home. I was comforted that it continued to thrive while so many aspects of my hometown were changing as locally-owned businesses gave way to chain stores.
When I published my first novel in 1993, there was no question where I would hold my first-ever book signing. The Book Nook welcomed me with open arms, and one of the greatest moments of my career - perhaps of my life - was to see my own books on shelves I'd stocked so many times as an employee.
I've since published nearly 80 more novels and have become a New York Times bestselling author, building a solid career thanks to the steadfast support of dedicated booksellers and their loyal customers.
With every new book tour, my publisher's publicity team has made the Book Nook a primary destination. For me, those events - hosted by the Donovan family and their dedicated staff - epitomize coming home to the community I love. I hear from readers across the country who'd stopped into the store while passing through town and discovered my books because they'd been recommended by one of the Book Nook staffers - very often the late, beloved Phil Pelletter.
No big box store or online retailer can ever compete with the Book Nook's level of service and the genuine passion not just for their product, but also for their customers and the community beyond their walls. How frustrating and ironic that in the end, those businesses won an increasing segment of local support until the Book Nook could no longer survive. I pray this isn't a harbinger for the end of an era and that the Dunkirk-Fredonia community will strive to support its remaining local businesses amid this challenging economic climate.
In closing, I'd like to thank the countless loyal customers who have shopped at the Book Nook for my books and those of my fellow authors over the years. But most of all, I'd like to thank the Pelletter and Donovan families for being there for nearly half a century.
I wish you and your staff well as you face this next chapter, and I assure you that Book Nook's legacy will live on - if not in brick and mortar, then in the hearts of your many friends who will never forget that cozy, shelf-lined haven.
Wendy Corsi Staub, Dunkirk native, is a New York City resident.