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Bronxville's Womrath Bookshop Seeks Local Readers

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- The sign in the window at Womrath Bookshop says it all: Eat Sleep Read Local. Womrath, a fixture in Bronxville for 73 years, is facing challenges from chain stores, big box discounters and the internet.

Eugene Sgarlata, who has owned Womrath for 27 years, has always kept up with changing times before.

"It was a much smaller store," Sgarlata said. "We beefed it up, and added the toy section, also the children's card room 15 years ago. It's been a very nice ride."

The ride's been getting bumpy, though, as the economy, e-book sales and online shopping have been adversaries.

"People are not coming in the store, that's the bad thing. We're not asking for a hand out...we just want an opportunity to strut our stuff."

It's more than just about books, as towns near Bronxville have lost some of their flavor because residents opt for bigger stores farther away, or turn to online shopping.

"If you go to these local towns next to us, a lot of stores are empty," Bronxville resident and shopper Giselle Licursi says. "Some people say it's more expensive to stay in a smaller store. Well, you're spending gas to get to that large chain, so it's almost the same."

What Licursi realizes, and Sgarlata hopes for more of, is that the opportunity just to do business is extremely important, even if it's only once in a while.

The thought reminds Sgarlata of a very telling story.

"A couple is passing a hardware store, and the woman goes "I love this place, it's so nice, etc.' The man asks her what she buys there, and she says, 'oh, nothing.'"

"If you like the store, if you like the character of it and want to keep it in the town, then you got to buy something. Even if it's only a 'bag of screws,' once a month buy something."

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