It's not a big surprise but Harvard Book Store is for sale. Owner Frank Kramer is 66 and thinking about the next phase of his life. He's hired Ridge Hill Partners, a boutique mergers and acquisition intermediary firm in Needham, to manage the sale.
Frank Kramer was beginning his senior year at college as a philosophy major when he took over the store in 1962 after his father, Mark Kramer, died unexpectedly. His father founded the store in 1932. By all accounts, Frank Kramer has done a heckuva job as the store is both profitable and well-loved.
Kramer, a co-founder of Cambridge Local First, expects to stay involved in Cambridge and Harvard Square.
Along with the announcement of the sale came a list of FAQs, excerpted here:
Q: When will the store be sold?
A: There is no definite time. It all depends on how long it takes to find the right buyer.
Q: Is Frank selling Harvard Book Store because the store is performing badly?
A: No. The store is profitable and, if properly run, we expect it will continue to be.
Q: Is this happening because the rent is overwhelming?
A: No. Our landlord is Harvard University and they have been very supportive of us.
Q: What will happen to the employees? They’re great people.
A: We are seeking an owner who will operate the store pretty much as it is running now and who will continue to work on improving the store going forward. Harvard Book Store is now run largely by Carole Horne, our general manager, and an experienced team of dedicated managers supported by a strong and committed staff. We cannot imagine why the next owner would not keep them on.
Q: If the business is sold, what will happen to my gift certificates?
A: Gift certificates will be fully honored by the next owner of Harvard Book Store.
Q: Will the frequent buyer program continue?
A: We expect, with the focus on customer loyalty in retailing today, that the frequent buyer program will continue, but this will be up to the next owner.
Q: Will the Author Event Series continue? I really enjoy that program.
A: Again, the next owner will make long-term decisions for Harvard Book Store, but the Author Event Series has been very popular and very successful, so we think it will continue or perhaps get even stronger.
Q: I’ve noticed that you are beginning to sell many non-book items. Why is this happening?
A: It is no secret that independent bookstores across the country are losing some of their book sales to the internet and other media. Despite this trend, people continue to need and enjoy a physical place in their communities and in travel destinations where the world of ideas and the literary mind are celebrated. Harvard Book Store has been that place for 75 years because we have sought out books and other products that our customers will buy. We will only remain profitable if we keep doing that.