In the day and age where it seems bookstores are going the way of flip phones and 8-track tapes, quitting your job to operate one of your own could be perceived as questionable decision. But that is not so, according to Scott Raulsome, who recently purchased Burton’s Bookstore in Greenport.
“I don’t feel like bookstores are dying,” said Raulsome. “Some aren’t doing so well, but independent stores in the right location can thrive. The people in Greenport are happy to have a bookstore. They are proud of it.”
With the closing of BookHampton in Mattituck, Burton’s Bookstore is now the only bookstore on the North Fork. The nearest bookstore, as the crow flies, is Harbor Books in Sag Harbor which opened earlier this month.
Raulsome reopened Burton’s Bookstore under its original name on Oct. 9, six months after reading a newspaper article inspired him to inquire about the sale.
“At the time I wasn’t exactly looking to purchase a bookstore,” he said. “It was always in the back of mind and when I read about this store it was like it was perfect. I love books; I wanted to move out east, I wanted my own business. It all came together.”
Mr. Raulsome leases the store from previous owner, George Maaiki of Orient, who has owned Burton’s Bookstore and the building it’s located in since 1988. With more than two decades in the book business under his belt, Maaiki decided to sell Burton’s Bookstore to someone he dreamed would preserve its small town charm.
“The reason I want to sell is it’s time for some young person to come in and, with all the new technology going on in the industry, give it some new blood,” Maaiki previously told the Suffolk Times.
Raulsome, 39, said his love for reading began when he was a child. But it wasn’t until graduating Providence College that he really fell in love with bookstores. After earning a degree in history, Raulsome found himself in the town of Truckee, Calif. near Lake Tahoe.
“It looked like the type of place you’d want to hang out so we stayed for a year,” he said.
During that time Raulsome took a job at the local bookstore.
“It was fun and easy going,” he said. “That bookstore experience never really left me. I wanted that feeling of loving to go to work again.”
A Nassau native, Mr. Raul said after signing the lease it wasn’t hard for him to leave his job of 10 years working in administration at Hofstra University, where he received his master’s degree. Raulsome, who currently lives in Aquebogue, said the welcome from the community has been “overwhelmingly positive.” He is now spending his days renovating the store adding fresh paint, new carpet and a wider selection of books.
“I want to make it a place where people can gather,” Raulsome said. “Greenport has so many creative types like authors and artists. And outside of a library there are few forums for local authors to go and spread the word. After the renovations I hope to have signings and book clubs and lectures.”
Peter Clarke, the president of the Greenport Business Improvement District and owner of Clarke Gardens on Main Street, said keeping Burton’s Bookstore a year-round business is beneficial to the local economy.
“We think it is very important to keep the village full of local businesses that residents need day in and day out,” he said. “We love what [Raulsome] has done. He has preserved something unique.”