Back Bay

Closing in fashion
-page 2 Albright-

Hand-painted murals and signs are just a few of the personal touches that make this Back Bay book store unique.

“We have always had a store that was eclectic in nature,” said McCaffrey, who opened his doors to the Back Bay and its reading public in October 1975. “We always have made an effort to carry the out-of-print work of good authors, and this became our reputation over the years and we grew and did well.”

The store did well until about three years ago when it was forced to move because the rental taxes on its original store became too high. Employees packed up in 2002 and moved the store 200 feet down the block to its current and what will be its final home at 353 Newbury St.

The new landlord, the Johnson family, rents the current space at a reduced price because it likes the store and what it brings to the community. But customers did not follow after Avenue Victor Hugo moved down the block.

“The reading public didn’t come back to us after the move, and our sales have been down half of what they were prior to the move,” said McCaffrey. “Even at the reduced overhead we had here, it wasn’t sufficient.”

“A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t.” -Mark Twain-

McCaffrey can’t put his finger on one specific reason why his regular customers didn’t come back, or why a rare and used bookstore that has found business in the Back Bay for almost three decades lost its core support.

“Most of the business has always been regulars, and that is partly why we have lost so much business,” said McCaffrey. “The regulars have left and the Back Bay has changed into a different community.”

Avenue Victor Hugo’s neighbors on Newbury street are Diesel, Newbury Comics, Virgin, Sonsie, Skechers, Steve Madden, The Puma Store, and of course, a Starbucks. Further down the shopping metropolis of Newbury are stores such as Emporio Armani, The Gap, Brooks Brothers, Nike, Betsey Johnson and other chain stores that can be found in cities all over America.

“Students buying books off the Internet, the transient nature of the community and the number of people that live here that are more into fashion than reading means this is not a valuable store here anymore,” said McCaffrey. But he doesn’t blame the students because they have always been in Back Bay and make up a good percentage of Boston’s population.

McCaffrey, a resident of Brookline, pointed to other local bookstores that have survived as institutions in their communities. “The bookstore in Coolidge Corner in Brookline, where the rents are horrible, has survived because they have a community around them,” said McCaffrey.

Brookline Booksmith, a local bookstore in Brookline, has kept its doors open for over 43 years.

-page 3 Old Friends-


Article 1

Back Bay’s changing storefronts

  -In every city
-A community for tourists?

Article 2

Back Bay loses a treasured bookstore


-Closing in
-Old friends

-Moving online

-A quote from Vincent


Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop

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