The independent bookshop has survived by staying focused on children's books.
After 27 years, the St. Paul fixture known as the Red Balloon Bookshop on Grand Avenue has survived the ups and downs of independent retailing. Now it has new owners.
Founder Carole Erdahl and business partner Michele Cromer-Poiré said Friday that they will sell their profitable children's bookstore Aug. 1 to Holly Weinkauf of St. Paul and Amy Sullivan of Minneapolis for an undisclosed price.
The survival and sale of the popular book retailer stands in stark contrast with this week's demise of the 40-year-old Borders bookstore chain and the shutting of countless independent bookstores across the state and country.
Unlike Borders and other book retailers, the Red Balloon stuck to its niche, aiming exclusively at kids. It started out on Grand Avenue and expanded only once. Six years ago, it began selling books in HMS Host's concession stores at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Erdahl said Red Balloon remained profitable and broke even during the recession. She decided to sell only because "It's time to retire."
Erdahl and Cromer-Poiré said they will keep the building on Grand Avenue. The sale involves inventory, computer systems, and fixtures.