Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

End of an era for Echuca bookshop

Saturday will be the final chapter for Echuca’s Tangled Garden Bookshop.

TRENT HORNEMAN May 27, 2014 11:00pm

Jenny and Peter Williams at the Tangled Garden Bookshop.

Saturday will close the final chapter for Echuca’s Tangled Garden Bookshop.

But the story has not ended for owner Peter Williams, who is preparing to launch an online bookshop.

Having gone through the halcyon days, Mr Williams said the end was inevitable for the Tangled Garden, which had operated in the community for 35 years.

Like many retailers, an increasing online market put his business on the chopping block.

‘‘Technology has simply overtaken a traditional method of spreading knowledge and pleasure,’’ he said.

‘‘There are plenty of other book store owners, with skills I admire, who are also closing their doors.

‘‘It is not a case of something that we have done wrong.’’

Mr Williams said he could see technology’s eventual consumption of his business.

‘‘When we first had the business in 1983, we did not have a computer in the shop,’’ he said.

‘‘Our sales were written onto cards which were placed in boxes for each publisher.

‘‘At the end of the week, we would go through each box and write an order for the publisher and mail them out.

‘‘When we first had a computer to do this work, it was wonderful.

‘‘As soon as the internet was readily available and computers became a place to compile and organise data, I could see that the demand for school books would progress online.’’

Mr Williams does not blame his customers for shopping online.

‘‘Due to postal arrangements and tax breaks, customers are able to get books from the US and England sometimes faster and for the same price I can buy them for,’’ he said.

‘‘It is the fault of the Government, not the customer.’’

Mr Williams, who spent many years juggling the business, along with family and Campaspe Shire commitments, said he would miss his store.

‘‘When we bought the business, it was in Hare St, where Johnny and Lyle is today, and it was the place to go on a weekend, to sit and have a coffee, explore the store or go downstairs to the craft cellar,’’ he said.

‘‘We then made the move, probably later than we should have, to the current location. At the time, tourism was growing and High St was expanding.’’


Mr Williams said the time was right to close, having recently separated from his wife and having his children take up study.

He said he was still in love with literature.

‘‘I am as passionate about books today as I was when I first started. I am probably not a good salesman in that if I think a book is not good, I will tell a customer as such,’’ he said.

The next step for Mr Williams is to open his online store, Murray River Books, which will specialise in farming and rural living books.

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