Friday, May 16, 2014

In Ketchum, is bookstore a bellwether?

Public meeting set to discuss future of longtime business


Iconoclast Books has operated in Ketchum for 20 years. Now, the business is facing eviction and closure. Courtesy photo

    The owner of Iconoclast Books in Ketchum has launched a campaign to save the iconic bookstore from permanent closure.
    Today, May 16, owner Sarah Hedrick will host a public meeting from 6-8 p.m. at the bookstore on Sun Valley Road to answer questions about the store’s imminent eviction from its location and whether the business can be kept alive.
    On May 9, 2008, Sarah’s husband and Iconoclast founder Gary Hunt died in a well-publicized car accident. Six years later to the day, Hedrick received notice that she would have to close the doors of the bookstore’s current home on June 6 if she doesn’t raise $85,000 to pay off back rent and late fees, as well as money owed to local vendors.
    Hedrick has been a longtime crusader for the community to support local businesses. She has repeatedly talked publicly about the challenges of doing business in the Wood River Valley in recent years, in part because of the recession and the impacts of large wildfires during the summer season.
    In an effort to raise the cash, Hedrick started an IndieGoGo online fundraising campaign. In the first three hours her campaign page was up and online, she raised $3,000, she said.
    Many people have asked Hedrick why she hasn’t filed bankruptcy.
    “I just feel it’s not the time or that it’s right,” she said. “I just don’t think that the store is at that point.”
    “Plus,” she said, “I have to walk down the street and see people I owe money to. I couldn’t look them in the eye if I filed. These are people I know and love.”
    Hedrick’s bookstore has its share of devotees, too. She talked about a local resident who visited the store just a few days ago.
    “He said he wanted to thank me,” she said. “I asked him, ‘Why?’ For letting my son grow up here,” he said.
    The man’s son is 5 years old and would sit in the back in the children’s section and look at picture books, he said.
    Iconoclast also boasts celebrity admirers. Iconic songwriter and Idaho resident Carole King has voiced her support for the business.
    Hedrick expects to be asked the hard questions in the meeting today.
    “In conducting this campaign, I’ve had to expose the store, and it’s not pretty,” she said. “My vision of how Friday will go is that I suspect people will see the campaign and have lots of questions. … But, at the same time, Friday is something of a celebration. Iconoclast is in its 20th year in Ketchum.”

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