Blue Manatee is looking for a new owner! Last week, the beloved children’s bookstore announced they will close if a new owner is not found by Jan. 14.
The bookstore has been a staple for young readers since 1989. In 2001, John Hutton and Sandra Gross purchased the bookstore, renaming it from Blue Marble to Blue Manatee. After 17 years, the pair say it’s time for someone else to “walk in the door on a snowy night” and run the store.
“The former [Blue Marble] owner, Pat Randolph, was in a very real sense entrusting us with her child. Bestowing on us stewardship of what blue manatee now represents: a sanctuary of wonderful words and images that bring grownups and children together through the joy of reading and sharing books,” writes Hutton, who describes the opportunity as a “golden ticket.”
Hutton and Gross cite their increasingly busy schedules as the reason for selling the store. They have a lot on their plates: Gross runs Brazee Street Studios. Hutton was recently named the Director of the Reading and Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They each oversee operations in the Sleepy Bee Cafe.
“For the past few years, I have tried to balance these things, to the detriment of my health and well-being, but I must finally accept that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, or neurotransmitters in my brain to do this in an effective or sustainable way,” explained Hutton.“A beloved, world-class children’s bookstore deserves a full-time steward – or a group of stewards – to focus their energies as we once did.”
Blue Manatee moved to a new location last year, and is a cornerstone of the vibrant Oakley community. Hutton and Gross said they are looking for someone to take over the brick and mortar store, as well as online operations. If a new owner isn’t be found by Jan. 14, doors will close.
Hutton said they will consider all proposals, as long as someone can carry on the tradition of providing the best in children’s books, including activitie and gift items, quality programming and author events. Other requirements are “championing values of tolerance, community, imagination, and a smackerel of insurgency.”