It was a sad and sorry day for Bellevue when the University Bookstore closed its doors on Feb. 15. In her open letter to bookstore customers, CEO Louise Little noted that, “Although we own the building in which the store resides, our business will be better served by leasing the space that our store currently occupies to another retail tenant.” Certainly, any business is entitled to make such decisions as circumstances dictate. But the University Bookstore, located amid Bellevue’s retail environment, brought something uniquely critical to the retail mix. When people entered the bookstore, they were welcomed together to a world of ideas — a place where differing perspectives, philosophies and opinions existed side-by-side on shelves, all equally accessible.
In this way, the bookstore exemplified the best characteristics of our democracy — tolerance, respect for diverse opinions, intellectual curiosity, creativity. Bookstores like the beloved University Bookstore are much-needed reminders of the core values that make all the rest of the hurrying retail and business world possible and meaningful.
Michael Berry and Wendy Leavitt