Dawn Braasch buys Bunch of Grapes
The clock in front of the Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven, stopped since July 4 when a fire gutted the building, started keeping time again on Wednesday last week.
The clock's revival heralded news the next day that Dawn Braasch, the bookstore's former events coordinator, bought the business from owner Jon Nelson. She also signed a long-term lease with his mother, Ann Nelson, who still owns the building at 44 Main Street.
Ms. Braasch, a resident of Vineyard Haven, moved to Martha's Vineyard full-time in 2005 and has worked at the bookstore for the past two years.
Mr. Nelson and his family moved to a new home in Texas last summer, only days before a fire that started next door at Café Moxie spread to the bookstore and severely damaged it.
In a phone call Tuesday, Ms. Braasch said she had discussed possibly buying the business from Mr. Nelson before he moved. After the fire, Ms. Braasch said although Mr. Nelson was committed to reopening the bookstore, he was more anxious to sell it rather than invest the time and money to get it going again, especially from afar. Mr. Nelson did not respond to phone messages for comment this week.
"I think it worked out to be mutually beneficial for all of us," Ms. Braasch said. "I know Ann was concerned about who would go in there, and she and I had worked together and gotten along well, so all of the way around, I think it has been a good fit."
In mid-November, Ms. Braasch plans to open a temporary, downsized version of the bookstore in the old Beadniks warehouse, located between the retail store and corporate headquarters building on Church Street.
"Just to be open to the community and be able to help with gift buying needs, I'm thrilled that we can do it," Ms. Braasch said. "I really debated if we could do anything before the main store was ready to be open, but that's spring, and maybe even late spring. I really didn't want to wait that long to have a presence again in the downtown, so then it became really important to me to be able to open a small space."
Ms. Braasch said the small bookstore would carry the best of the former inventory of the Bunch of Grapes. She has wholesale warehouses committed to providing a two- to three-day turnaround on orders.
"I hope the community understands it's temporary - it's not what we were, it's not intended to be even close to what we were - but if they'll come out and support us, we'll be back full force come spring," Ms. Braasch said.
In a phone call yesterday, Ms. Nelson said she continues to meet with insurance adjustors regarding the bookstore's reconstruction.
In the meantime, she has agreed to work as Ms. Braasch's consultant. "I will be more than happy to do that, because nobody knows that business like I do," Ms. Nelson said. "I will be right there along with her, because I definitely want this town to have that bookstore back - it's 37 years of my life."