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Lift Bridge Book Shop in Brockport says it is in danger of closing

Feb 25, 2020

Credit Lift Bridge Book Shop

At a time when independent bookstores are reportedly thriving nationally, one of Monroe County's few remaining indie shops is struggling to stay open.

John Bonczyk, co-owner of Lift Bridge Book Shop in Brockport, says sales are down approximately 70 percent from when he bought the business in 2014. 

When Bonczyk first purchased the store, he said he and co-owner Cody Steffen had a brisk business selling text books to students attending SUNY Brockport.

"We used to have lines out the door of people pre-ordering their books," Bonczyk recalled, "but due to rising text book costs and the cost of college, students got a lot more savvy about how they spent their money on their text books, if they even bought them."

Several years later, Lift Bridge lost a contract to sell trade books to the Rochester City School District, which was able to find a lower bid out of state.

Two years ago, Bonczyk's wife, Sarah, bought Steffen's portion of the business after the couple realized the annual income from the store was not large enough to support two families. On Saturday, the couple passed flyers out to their customers, asking that they encourage friends and neighbors to shop at the store. Bonczyk said the response was immediate.

"On Sunday, we were extraordinarily busy," he said. "It was just as good as a Saturday during Christmastime on Sunday and it followed into Monday."

But in order to stay open, he said they have to find a way to continue that momentum.

"It's not a flash in the pan, 'We don't need to get out of a hole,' " said Bonczyk. "We're just trying to prevent us from getting into that hole and needing to close."