Written Words scrambles to stay in Shelton

Shelton may lose its independent bookseller, unless Written Words Bookstore owner Dorothy Sim-Broder can find a new, affordable location in the city.

The store is running a capital campaign on Indiegogo.com, to support the move to a new location in Shelton.

The lease is up at the White Hills Shopping Plaza store, at 194 Leavenworth Road, and the booksellers can’t afford to stay there. The landlord, Royal Wells, is allowing Written Words to stay until the end of the year, which Sim-Broder called “extremely generous.” After that, they hope to have a smaller space in which to reopen.

“We live here and we love being here,” Sim-Broder said of Shelton. “So many of our customers have been fanning out and looking for other spaces.”

The store is looking for help from the community, asking that patrons make donations or contact the store if they know of a space that would be a good fit.

As word spread of the impending move, landlords from out of town have been contacting the owner.

“I tell them I’ll keep it in mind but I’m really trying to stay in Shelton,” she said.

Sim-Broder and her husband opened the store in 2007.

“This bookstore belongs to the people,” Sim-Broder said. “It’s no longer a bookstore, it’s a community gathering place.”

Tutors meet their students there, parents drop kids off while they go shopping, and adults meet and form friendships, Sim-Broder said.

“I accomplished what I set out to do,” she said. “I’ll never be rich, but that’s OK.”

Sim-Broder doesn’t have her eye on any particular section of the city though she thinks a downtown storefront may not work because she needs plenty of parking for the families that come to the store, with strollers and young children. Bridgeport Avenue has great foot traffic, Sim-Broder said, but she can’t afford the rent.

At indiegogo.com/writtenwords supporters may make donations to support the store. The official campaign ends Sept. 28 and the goal is to reach $10,000. By Tuesday afternoon, the store had raised about $2,800. Comments from donors who are supporting the store may also be read at the fund-raising page.

“It’s merit-based, and people who know me know that, but for those who don’t I won’t be using this money to get my nails done somewhere,” she said.

They aren’t the first independent bookseller to use the fund-raising site. A New London bookstore, Monte Christo Bookshop, was successful in running a capital campaign through the site.

Sim-Broder hopes that support will help the store stay open and continue to provide author signings, book discussions and expand literacy and foreign language programs.

If any local residents or landlords know of a space that is available, they may call Sim-Broder at 203-944-0400 or through email at dorothy@writtenwordsbookstore.com.

Sim-Broder is hoping to band together with other independent booksellers soon and discuss the best way share their mission with the public.

“A lot of people immediately go to a big bookstore or online because they think they get a good deal,” she said. “They don’t see the long-range benefit of supporting your neighbors and helping to build the community.”

The store is holding an event this weekend: Author and Shelton resident Ray Bendici will talk about his new book, Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Connecticut History, Sunday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m. The book features 15 short biographies of the lives of notorious bad guys, perpetrators of mischief and other colorful antiheroes from history, from Benedict Arnold to P.T. Barnum.