The Fehsenfelds Buy Nicola's
Schuler's owners plan no changes
by Sally Mitani
From the August, 2014 issue
Nicola Rooney wasn't happy last February when Publishers Weekly reported she was looking to sell her bookstore. She had been trying to sell Nicola's Books quietly and hadn't yet told her employees. But according to Emily Stavrou, promotions coordinator at Grand Rapids-based Schuler Books, the article tipped Schuler's owners Bill and Cecile Fehsenfeld that the store was for sale; they started talking to Rooney about a purchase, and the store will officially change hands in mid-August.
There will be no name change. "They know perfectly well that it would be a complete waste to shed the name Nicola's," she says crisply. "We're much more well known in Ann Arbor than Schuler"--though Schuler is a behemoth in the indie book business.
"I'm pretty confident that this sale secures the bookstore for the future," Rooney says. "I had interest from people who had never run a bookstore before, which was ... interesting. But this is not a bookstore for someone to practice on. It's too big. I'm happy to have it become part of a group of established bookstores."
And established it is. The Fehsenfelds, who actually met in Ann Arbor working at Ulrich's (and went on to work at Borders), opened Schuler in Grand Rapids in 1982. Schuler means "student" in German, and, Stavrou says, "it's Bill's middle name. It makes a better name for a store than Fehsenfeld." They now own three stores named Schuler--the original on 28th St. in GR, plus branches in Okemos and Lansing. "This one will continue to be called Nicola's, and Nicola will stay on to help with transition," she confirms. There will be some internal changes, but nothing you're likely to notice. "We haven't figured out how to address the website yet, and we'll be merging our inventory somehow. It should be a pretty seamless transition."
Nicola's Books, 2513 Jackson Ave. (Westgate), 662-0600. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. nicolasbooks.com
[Originally published in August, 2014.]