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The story ends Feb. 28

Young Editions, the youth bookstore with personalized service, falls prey to chain bookstores and the Internet.

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 10, 2002

CARROLLWOOD -- The story has become so familiar on Dale Mabry that most local residents don't even blink an eye when another business closes.

This past week, however, many parents found themselves agape, as they drove by the "Going Out of Business" sign hanging in the window of Young Editions, the only children's bookstore in Tampa.

After occupying the same spot at 14308 N Dale Mabry Highway for more than two decades, the store will lock up one final time on Feb. 28.

"The lease is up, and business is down," said Cathee Marston, 59, who has owned the store since 1993. "It's time, and I don't want it to go through a slow death."

The decision to close was neither quick nor easy.

"I've absolutely loved this place," said Marston of Carrollwood. "But I've come to terms with it. I'm not being forced to do it. . . . I want to pay my bills, and walk away from it feeling good."

Several factors came into play when she contemplated shutting down, not the least of which was a slowing economy and the resulting low sales for the past two Christmas seasons.

The arrival in Carrollwood of big booksellers and toy store chains also hit hard at her bottom line, as did the Internet.

"Five years ago I used to have a line of parents here with their kids right around 2:30 because the kids had just gotten out of school where they found out they had a project on planets or flowers, and the parents wanted to buy them books for resource material," Marston said.

"Now they find all of their information on the Internet, or they buy the books over the Internet."

Amy Shimberg of Original Carrollwood, who has 11 grandchildren, has been shopping at Young Editions since Marston took over. While she still considers books the perfect gift for children, she's not sure where she will buy them now.

"I guess I'll buy them at one of those big stores, but it won't be the same," she said.

"Cathee is so knowledgeable, and gave such personal attention. She knew every single book, and could always explain which book or toy was perfect for which age."

Over the years Marston has hosted a weekly story hour for pre-schoolers, dozens of American Girl theme parties, book signings by famous children's authors, and many school book fairs.

"I've always loved books, and I love meeting new people, so this has been the perfect combination of the two," Marston said. "The people I've met, the things I've learned -- it's been a wonderful experience. I have no regrets at all."

While Marston will not re-open in another location, she is by no means retiring.

"I'm not a sit-at-home person, so I know I'll work somewhere, I just don't know where yet," she said. "I know something good will happen. I'm not afraid of change."

Remaining true in her devotion to her customers, Marston will be throwing a good-bye party on Feb. 28. She has yet to work out the details, but has invited all who wish to stop by to call her at the store for more information at 963-0214.

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