In a rare positive turn for downtown Durham development news, Letters Bookshop owner Land Arnold announced this afternoon that the shop has found a new home at 116 West Main Street, in the two-story space beside Gurley’s Pharmacy. 

Arnold, a longtime bookseller in the Triangle who previously worked at Flyleaf in Chapel Hill, opened Letters in December 2013 at 313 West Main Street (disclaimer: I previously moonlighted shifts at Letters). The bookstore—which sells a blend of used and new fiction, and celebrated its seven year anniversary last month—has been closed for in-store browsing since March, though it has continued to sell books through and run outdoor weekend book cart pop-up “Letters Abridged.” 

The new 116 West Main Street location, built around 1924, was originally occupied by The Merchants Bank. During the 1960s, the classical facade was (for better or worse) modernized; it has seen various businesses in the mixed-use space since. 

That block of Main Street has seen some downturn during the pandemic; in December, beloved wine spot Bar Brunello shuttered, followed by the January closure of downtown gift shop Bungalow. 

And while some Triangle bookstores have kept up a healthy volume of online orders, in the last year, the lack of foot traffic has put a significant dent in business for others. The new Letters location, with its airy, expanded browsing and socializing space, is a significant boon for both the store and a downtown increasingly crowded by condos and startups. 

For a longer look at the minds behind Letters, you can read an INDY interview with Letters bookseller William Page here, and more recommendations with other Triangle booksellers here

“We are aiming to reopen late spring—and hope that our reopening follows on the tails of global reopening as vaccinations continue,” Arnold wrote in the announcement email. “We’re so grateful to have you as part of our community, and we can’t wait to welcome you to our new location and catch up with you in the coming months.”

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