Cellar Stories To Close

The news traveled quickly: After 40 years, Cellar Stories Bookstore would be closing on January 31st. Current manager Victoria Forsberg-Lary made the announcement in the beginning of December, with a lovely history of the shop and personal memories of its founder Michael Chandley who died in 2018. We should all merit such a tribute. He and a friend opened the store in 1982, in a cellar.

They managed a deal on rent for their first shop at 184 Mathewson doing odd jobs for the owner of the building, where they found an old 1917 National cash register in the basement (which we still use today). After a few years, Ray left to pursue other ventures, but Mike never tired of buying and selling books. The business changed and the inventory grew, prompting a move out of the cellar and into a first floor space at 190 Mathewson, and eventually down the street to our current location on the second floor of 111 Mathewson Street. Friends and family came out to help build shelves, move boxes, and organize the store.

The response on social media to the closing has prompted an outpouring of fond memories of Chandley and the store. Amy Russo spoke with Chandley relative, Dale Rogers, in a piece for the ProJo:

Rogers remembers what it was like to walk into the second-floor shop, which at any given moment houses between 50,000 and 100,000 books — all second-hand and most under $10. “There was a certain amount of anticipation just walking up the stairs,” he said. “And when you flung open the doors to go inside, it was like you stepped back into something Dickensian. He just had rows and rows and rows of books.”

There is a sign on the front desk that reads: “Last day = Jan 31. We don’t know what we’re going to do with all the books.”

So go in and buy some of the heavy ones.

Hours: 10am to 6pm, Thursday, Friday, Saturday/ 10am to 5pm, Sunday.

Cellar Stories, 111 Mathewson Street, (directions)


It’s bigger than it looks from outside.

Front desk with that 1917 National cash register.

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