Indie opened by A A Milne's son to close after 60 years

A Dartmouth bookshop opened by the son of Winnie-the-Pooh author A A Milne is closing down after 60 years.

The Harbour Bookshop on Fairfax Place was opened in 1951 by Christopher Robin Milne, the inspiration for the character Christopher Robin in his father's famous Winnie-the-Pooh stories.
Milne owned the bookshop for several years before selling it. It has been owned by Rowland and Caroline Abram for the last 15 years.

Abram said he was "devastated" he had been forced to take the decision to close the shop at the end of September, making four staff redundant. He said he had no choice after rising rent and rates, competition from supermarkets and the internet and a lack of support from publishers meant sales had rapidly declined over the past three years.

He said: "We are devastated because this bookshop was opened by Christopher Robin Milne and I have the duty of closing it because we cannot carry on. It will have been open for 60 years this week. We have customers whose children and grandchildren have all bought their books here. They are devastated."

Besides a Sainsbury's store selling a small selection of books, The Harbour Bookshop is the only bookshop in Dartmouth. Abram said a rise in people owning second homes in the Devon town had affected book sales, because the population wasn't stable or constant. He also said he believed indie bookshops had not been supported by publishers, which he said offer better margins to bigger sellers at the expense of smaller businesses.

Andrea Saunders, who has worked at The Harbour Bookshop for 26 years, and has spent her whole professional life selling books, said she was trying to come to terms with the closure. She said: "I cannot get my head around it at all, I have shed more tears in the last week then I ever have."