Used book shop closes its doors
By Bruce Edwards
Herald Staff | July 20,2006
CASSANDRA HOTALING / RUTLAND HERALD
Tuttle Antiquarian Books, pictured Wednesday afternoon on South Main Street, closed for good last month.
The outdoor book bins that were a visible calling card for the business at 28 South Main St. are now empty. So, too, is the large red building with its inventory of 40,000 books.
A Rutland institution for 174 years, Tuttle Antiquarian Books closed its doors last month — a victim of technology.
"The reason for closing was the effects of the Internet," Jon Mayo said Wednesday while watching workers load books onto a truck bound for Maine. "We think that's what did us in."
Mayo, 67, who purchased the business five years ago with Jennifer Shannon, said consumer buying and selling habits had changed to the point where Tuttle couldn't compete with eBay, Amazon and everyone else in between.
"It's impossible to compete with someone who can sell their books from their living room," he said.
Mayo also said it became increasingly difficult to buy quality books to replenish the company's stock of old books.
He said most of his customers were tourists who dropped by and out-of-state book dealers.
The store on South Main Street resembled more of a library than a traditional bookstore. There were shelves upon shelves of books on almost every conceivable subject — 200 subject listings to be exact, according to Mayo.
The Tuttle family has a rich publishing history going back to the 1800s when a Tuttle family member owned the Rutland Herald. In addition to Tuttle Publishing Co., there is Tuttle Law Print; both companies continue in business to this day, though ownership has changed over the years. Downtown, there is the recently renovated Tuttle building.
The family had also owned Tuttle Stationery Co., which has since gone out of business.
Charles Tuttle, who ran Tuttle Publishing for years, came back from serving in occupied Japan at the end of World War II. That experience resulted in Tuttle publishing myriad English language books on the Far East, especially Japanese history, culture and language.
In 1979, Tuttle spun off the company's rare and old book business as Tuttle Antiquarian Books, expanding an existing secondhand bookstore in the basement of the publishing company's offices at 28 South Main St.
Following Tuttle's death in 1993, his Japanese-born wife, Reiko, continued to run the book shop. In 2001, Reiko Tuttle sold the business to long-time employees Mayo and Shannon. Reiko Tuttle died earlier this year.
A statue in the likeness of Charles Tuttle that sat on the front porch of the bookstore has been donated to the Tuttle Publishing Co. in the Airport Business Park, Mayo said.
Mayo said he and Shannon sold the inventory of 40,000 books to another book seller, DeWolfe and Wood, in Alfred, Maine. The main building at 28 South Main and the adjacent building at 26 South Main, which was used as a warehouse, "are being been sold to a local person," said Mayo, who declined to identify the buyer.
The city assessor's office listed the value of the properties at $200,000 and $167,100 respectively.
The smaller Tuttle building at 26 South Main St. was built in 1795. The white federal-style building was the home of Mrs. Samuel Williams, whose husband was the first pastor of the Congregational Church, according to Jim Davidson of the Rutland Historical Society. The main 2-1/2 story building with the gambrel roof was built in 1900.
Mayo, who began working for Charles Tuttle in 1957, said he has mixed feelings about closing a business with such a rich history.
"There are a lot of emotions involved, some good, some bad,' he said.
Contact Bruce Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.