Downtown mainstay Lorelei Books looking for new owners

Published 9:58 am Friday, January 13, 2017

A business built on relationships may be closing its doors soon.

Lorelei Books and the building it is in at 1103 Washington St. are up for sale.

Owners Laura and Troy Weeks are not suffering from bad health or bad business. They just feel it is the right time to retire.

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“I’ve been doing this for 10 years now,” Laura said. “We had planned to retire in coastal North Carolina, and we already own property there that’s ready for us to just move into. We had a conversation about timing in life. It’s one of those things, and it came down to why not now.”

The Weeks are endeavoring to sell both the store and building.

“The reason I made the effort to sell the business is really because of my desire to not leave Vicksburg without a bookstore in the wake of our return to the east coast,” Laura said. “Whether or not that happens I think has a lot to do with interest in our building.”

There is no specific timeline for the store closing as of now. Everything depends on how many buyers show interest and whether that interest is in the store or in the building. If someone wants to buy the building and not the store, she would have to consider stopping the search for a new storeowner.

“It’s a soft timeline,” Laura said. “We’re really not sure how this will play out. Will a person who is a solid prospect for buying the business step forward before someone comes to us with an offer on the building that we can’t refuse? ”

As of now she has spoken to a few people who want to keep the store open but don’t actually have the resources to do so. As for the building, she said in the 10 years she has been the owner, she has had multiple people inquire about purchasing it from her— long before she thought of selling.

“I’ve always had people interested in my building even when I had no plans to ever sell it,” Laura said.

If she is unable to find a buyer for either, she will liquidate the store and rent the building. However the transition sorts itself out, Laura promises to stay in communication with the Vicksburg community.

“This is not a situation where we are just going to disappear overnight,” Laura said.

Outside of the business, Laura has a strong stake in the community and said she spent a lot of time volunteering in the Vicksburg community by reading in classrooms, organizing programs in conjunction with the public library and working with United Way on literacy programs.

“As the director of United Way of West Central Mississippi, I have been blessed to know Laura as a remarkable businesswoman and a community advocate,” Michele Connelly said. “I think her involvement speaks volumes about her character.”

Connelly called Laura welcoming and said she is always willing to help.

“Laura believes in making connections. She is a hard working, dedicated, and faithful volunteer who gives of her entire self to make a difference in our community,” Connelly said. “Laura sells books, but more importantly she truly desires to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Shopper Brian Riley said he is going to miss having a local bookstore in town and the community service he receives from Laura.

“It’s a loss for Vicksburg,” he said.

Sisters Jennifer Sluis and Nancy Ballard were also shopping in the store Thursday and reminisced about all their favorite memories at the store with their children and grandchildren.

“It’s just going to be sad,” Ballard said. “I hate to see things leave downtown.”

“It’s going to be a great loss, but we understand,” Sluis said.

The Facebook post about selling the store has 95 reactions, 40 comments and 26 shares. Laura feels the way word has spread increases the chances the store will sell with many of her followers in the publishing and bookselling industry.

Steve Yates, associate director and marketing director at University Press of Mississippi, has had a relationship with Lorelei Books for all 10 years it was open. He said Laura helped bridge Vicksburg-connected authors’ work to the community. With the store gone, he has lost an important connection to Vicksburg.

“Without an independent bookstore in Vicksburg, I don’t know how that will be achieved,” he said.

Yates called Laura brave for choices she made in her business like bringing poetry to the community, and he said she had a strong business mind that made the store successful.

“How wonderful that they’re doing this when their business is absolutely profitable and in the black. That’s a testimony to Vicksburg and a testimony to the way they’ve been embrace there. That’s not the usual storyline for a bookstore closing,” he said.

Laura called the move is bittersweet.

“The one thing that is indisputable in all of this is that I will really miss a lot of the relationships and the friendships I made in this community. That’s going to be really the hardest part of all. Otherwise, I am excited about the next phase in my life,” Laura said. “