Port Washington bookstore is closing after 76 years in business
On Monday, Oct. 10, The Dolphin Bookshop announced they will be closing down after 76 years in business in Port Washington. The bookshop, located at 299 Main St., has been a town mainstay for decades, and many are sad to see it go.
The shop has an assortment of books, from travel guides to young adult fantasy novels to history books. Besides books, The Dolphin Bookshop carries children’s toys, various candles and soaps, jewelry and many other gift items.
“On Saturday mornings, people would come in to buy childrens gifts for birthday parties, but that has been reduced since the pandemic began,” said shop owner Judith Mitzner.
A year ago, the bookstore consolidated from the three spaces of the building they occupy to one corner space. The consolidation of the bookstore provided Mitzner with a blank canvas to rearrange and decorate the shop.
“The consolidation was surprisingly challenging,” said Mitzner. “We had to get rid of stuff, so we had a huge sale where items were 75 percent off for about two weeks. Although we downsized the space, we had an opportunity to change up the look of the store.”
Before the pandemic hit, The Dolphin Bookshop held events such as poetry readings, author signings, book club meetings and kids programs. Recently, the bookshop resumed its events, hosting local authors such as Ellen Pall, Shiva Kumar and Sabrina Grossman. The store also has been holding story time and crafts for kids every Sunday.
While the consolidation and entertaining events brought new life to the bookstore after the COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep the store afloat.
“We have been struggling for the last 15 to 20 years, and it’s gotten harder and harder,” said Mitzner. “It just doesn’t make sense to stay.”
When asked what contributed to the store’s closing, Mitzner said it’s partly due to “the usual reasons, people are shopping elsewhere.”
The Dolphin Bookshop posted the news of its closing on its Facebook page. Many Port residents have commented, expressing their sorrow for the loss of the independent bookstore. Below are selected comments from the post.
Facebook user Christine Sanchez: “This makes me incredibly sad. Dolphin was always a valued part of our town and community. As my son learned to read, we always came to you for age-appropriate recommendations. When he became an avid young reader, we knew you could guide us to keep him coming back for more. Sad to see you go but please know how much you were loved and appreciated!”
Facebook user Rachel Abbey: “This is such sad news. Port has always been proud of our independent bookstore, and the character of our town will be diminished by your departure.”
Facebook user Eileen Grizer Feinman: “The Dolphin was a bright light and loved in Port Washington for so many years. You will be missed.”
A few commenters brought up a similar situation concerning Hungtington’s Book Revue closing down in August 2021. After 44 years in business, Book Revue was unable to cover expenses because of COVID-19 forcing them to close shop for months and postpone its usual events.
Shortly after Book Revue’s closing, they began raising funds and hosting book pop-ups in Huntington parks and local stores willing to host them. Some Port residents have brought up the efforts of Book Revue and are hoping The Dolphin Bookshop will do the same.
Unfortunately, it takes lots of hard work and dedication to host and publicize pop-ups. After months of struggling to keep The Dolphin open, continuing those efforts in pop-ups doesn’t seem reasonable.
“We’ve been here for a long, long time, and I know many people loved having us here, but they didn’t really love it enough to shop here,” said Mitzner. “It would be a huge effort for a similar outcome.”
The Dolphin Bookshop will be closing its doors at the end of October. Till then, everything the shop carries is 40 percent off when paying with cash or a credit card.
“We’re going to be out by the end of the month for sure,” said Mitzner. “But if there is no reason to stay at a certain point and everything has gone, we will close up.”
Before the end of October, visit The Dolphin Bookshop for the last time and get an exciting fantasy novel, historical biography, or gift item for a loved one at a discounted price.