Well-known Kāpiti couple Rob and Kaye Clarke have put their Paper Plus Coastlands on the market.
With retirement beckoning, and being able to be in charge of their own destiny, the couple feel the time is right for a new owner to begin a new chapter for the bookshop.
But selling their flagship Paraparaumu based business, which has spanned more than 40 years, wasn't an easy decision to make.
"It has been a difficult decision to come to with so many good customers and friends that we have gained over the years," Rob said.
Established initially by Rob and his mother Louise, the business has blossomed into one of the largest bookstores in the lower North Island and is still in the hands of Rob and Kaye 42 years later.
"However this isn't just a family business we'll be handing over," Kaye noted.
The 600 square metre business is one of the flagship stores in the Paper Plus Group in a network of close to 100 stores across the country.
The bookshop has become a highly respected retail enterprise and one of the top five stores in the Paper Plus group.
Many industry awards have been won including Coastlands Store of the Year, Paper Plus Group Store of the Year and Booksellers NZ Group Store of the Year.
Importantly the bookshop has had loyal and long-serving staff.
"They are experienced, they know the business well, and they are probably the face of the business to a lot of our customers," Rob said.
There are many facets to running a bookshop with the main one being selecting stock.
"We have a website with more than two million books on it and yet inside our shop we probably have 25,000 books," he said.
"So there is a massive range to choose from and it's our job to understand the market and try and meet that.
"Over time you build up a great range because you're close to what people are looking for."
"We need to have our ears and eyes open all the time," Kaye said.
One such example was when their youngest staff member Evalina told them about a book called Women Don't Owe Me Pretty.
Copies were ordered, customers snapped it up, leading to more orders, and kudos each time for the youngster.
Some books are extra special with one of Kaye's favourites being Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius, written 2000 years ago.
"We decided that it was just so good that we would buy it in 10s and we've gone on to sell a couple of hundred.
"That's a lot of people reading a book from so long ago and passing it on."
One of the biggest sellers was a pictorial book called Diana Princess of Wales which Rob said led to "substantial sales".
The latest book popular with customers is Coromandel couple Niva and Yotam Kay's The Abundant Garden.
"A most beautiful book," Kaye said.
"We sold all our copies in three days."
Other key areas for running a well-oiled bookshop involve "being an accountant, a wage clerk, a tax specialist, an advertising executive … that's the reality of running a business," Rob said.
There's also important tasks like stocking cards, stationery, magazines, quirky gifts, through to operating a NZ Post franchise and organising the popular book signings.
Some of the attributes the new owner would need was energy, enthusiasm, ability to cope with a steep learning curve, and interest in the community.
There would be fresh opportunities for the new owner too.
"There are lots of avenues for growth and branching out," Kaye said.
While taking on the business could be a daunting task, lots of help was available, including from the couple.
"We want to support and contribute to a new owner starting the business," Rob said.
"It's also a legacy we would like to see continue for another 40 years because it's so well respected and enjoyed by the community."
"We'd love to be as much help, or as little help, as needed," Kaye added.
Moreover, despite the various challenges, it was an enjoyable business to be involved in.
"It's a great journey and we've loved it," she said. "We've never been bored."
Rob: "It has been an extraordinary journey, one with many challenges and many highlights, but in the end one that has proven that a good quality bookshop can stand the test of time."
People interested in buying the bookstore can email firstname.lastname@example.org.