Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Closing chapter for fine arts bookshop

Parsons Bookshop. Photo / Supplied
Parsons Bookshop. Photo / Supplied

One of Auckland's most established bookshops is about to shut because its owners are retiring and cannot find a buyer.

Parsons Bookshop, owned and operated by couple Roger and Helen Parsons and a feature of the Auckland book scene for 36 years, will have its last day on Sunday.

"We're not selling it because of e-books, it's a perfectly viable business," Mr Parsons said.

"The problem is we haven't been able to sell it but we've made money selling the stock."

In January, Mr Parsons said he was offering stock in the shop at 26 Wellesley St East at big discounts because they were quitting.

"We have been unable to find someone to take over the shop. So we now offer you the opportunity to obtain all those books you always wanted at half price," he told customers.

But Helen Parsons said she would continue in the trade.

"From April I will work from home. I will morph into Parsons Library Supply. I will work from our garden shed, which we call 'The Alpine Hut'."

Last winter, the couple tried to sell the business.

Lawrie McColl, a business broker with Affiliated Business Consultants, said the shop was for sale for $150,000 plus stock valued at about $210,000.

Mr McColl said the owners had good reasons to sell.

"Roger and Helen Parsons have carved out a very strong niche market with a focus on fine art, photography, architecture and design, along with New Zealand, Maori and Pacific books. They have developed an unparalleled range of resources in these categories which they use to effectively market to their core group of customers.

"However, after 36 years as booksellers, Roger and Helen have decided that it is time to enjoy their retirement years. Roger is an avid tramper and has a number of major European hikes in mind," McColl said last June.

Helen Parsons said the Auckland business was separate from a Wellington bookstore owned and operated by Roger's siblings, Julian and Beatrice Parsons.

Mr Parsons said the Auckland shop's chances of survival were questioned three decades ago.

"We started in large, airy premises at the back of the National Insurance Building in Victoria St in Auckland. In the same year London Bookshop and the Book Corner came to Central Auckland. An article in the Herald at the time questioned who would survive. We know the answer 36 years later.

"From 1980 we also ran the Art Gallery Bookshop and Exhibition Shops in the Auckland Art Gallery. In 1995 we moved into our current architecturally designed premises in New Gallery building. The success of Parsons Bookshop Auckland has been very much the product of widespread support from our customers and from our well-qualified and dedicated staff."

- NZ Herald

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