Linda and Ken Pitzel stand under the Book Masters sign of their store in the City Centre Mall. After 15 years their store — a hybrid book store and The Source electronics store — is closing after The Source cancelled their contract.

The end for Book Masters in Kitimat

The Book Masters store is closing after their contract with The Source was cancelled by the corporation.

It’s with heavy hearts that Linda and Ken Pitzel lock the doors at Book Masters/The Source, one of the iconic stores of City Centre Mall.

In business for 15 years — starting as a book store off the parking lot of the upper City Centre parking lot, where Dee’s Flowers is now, in October 1996 — they are forced to close after The Source used a clause in their contract with Linda and Ken to pull the plug with 90 days notice.

While that specifically didn’t mean they had to close shop entirely — the Book Masters side is their own business — with the book sales industry in the state it’s in, not just locally but globally, they said they just couldn’t afford to keep the business going.

“The Source side supports the book side,” said Ken, who joined Linda in running the business later, after he left a previous job. He admitted that book sales isn’t a viable business in today’s world.

Despite that, the two were set to continue operating the business as usual — they were only two years in to a five year contract with The Source.

Linda said what the corporate side is doing is going ahead with their own store in the mall.

“What they’re going to do is turn around and open their own corporate store,” she said. “They didn’t tell us that but if you go to their [website] they’re advertising for Kitimat employees and managers.”

Book Masters/The Source employs seven people in total, including Linda and Ken, and Ken said that there is no formal program to transfer the employees to the new The Source store, so anyone interested would have to apply.

Linda and Ken said they would have been very willing to work amiably with The Source but their treatment from head office has left them sour.

Notably the two weren’t even informed of The Source’s intentions until rumour hit them that The Source was looking for retail space in the mall.

On that talk, Linda called head office and the very next day received a reply, over the phone then in the mail, telling them they had 90 days.

“It was unexpected, it was quick. All we can do is concentrate on trying to get this closed and then we’ll just have to go from there,” said Linda.

She added, “I don’t think we would have gotten a phone call had we not caught them snooping around looking for leasing space.”

Linda and Ken had been expecting a very good year for business with all of the activity going on in Kitimat.

At least when they close on April 28 they’ll still have 15 years of good memories of the store.

When asked if there were any highlights of running the store, Linda recalled the time that famous children’s book author Robert Munsch showed up in the store to buy a book.

(Linda didn’t recognize him at first, and only when he presented his credit card for payment did she realize.)

The Sentinel attempted to contact a media spokesperson for The Source but has not been able to reach one as of press time.

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