What’s going on with Haslam bookstore in St. Petersburg?

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For years, residents and visitors of St. Pete have enjoyed browsing used books – and greeting the shop cats – at the Haslam Bookstore.

The beloved 2025 Central Avenue store announced a temporary closure on March 22, 2020 due to the pandemic. Aside from a Facebook post in May 2020, the company has remained silent online.

The owners have also resisted requests for comment since then, declining to speak to several Tampa Bay weather reporters who have called, emailed and knocked on doors over the past year.

Recently, the Google company profile was updated with a red banner indicating that the company was “permanently closed”.

Tom Clancy, brother of compatriot Emily Dickinson, relaxes on a shelf in Haslam’s in St. Petersburg. [ Courtesy of Raymond Hinst III. ]

According to Google, businesses can mark their own pages with this status, but Google reviewers can also submit information to the site to mark them as closed. If the site does not receive any response from business owners, the “permanently closed” banner may be added to the profile.

A screenshot of the Haslam Book Store Google business profile on June 2, 2021, which has been marked with a "permanently closed" sign.
A screenshot of Haslam Book Store‘s Google business profile on June 2, 2021, which has been marked with a “permanently closed” sign. [ Screenshot ]

The Times contacted again for comment on Monday. This time Haslam responded.

“For various personal and professional reasons, Suzanne and I are still undecided on whether to reopen the bookstore to the public,” co-owner Ray Hinst wrote in an email. “We value everyone’s interest and try to consider all aspects of the situation. In the meantime our kittens are very happy in their new homes in the area.

Related: You’ve seen the pets in Tampa Bay businesses – now meet them

In another email, Hinst confirmed that the owners are in the process of updating Google’s status accordingly.

One thing is certain: the presence of the bookstore was missed by the community.

Google critic Stacey Clarke posted last month that she was heartbroken that Haslam had not reopened.

“I really hope good things happen for the crew and the location of the Haslam.”

Teacup, pictured at Haslam Bookstore on Thursday August 1, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
Teacup, pictured at Haslam Bookstore on Thursday August 1, 2019 in St. Petersburg. [ “MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | TIMES” | Tampa Bay Times ]

Times literary critic Colette Bancroft contributed to this report.


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