This is only the beginning of the story for Chapters
The famed Chapters bookstore in Dublin has been re-opened by Gamestop founder and Nobber resident Michael Finucane who set up his first game store business at the back of the iconic bookshop in 1994.
Dublin native Michael, who moved to Nobber 16 years ago, and business partner Kevin Neary, had many fond memories of setting up their first business there and remained friends with Chapters’ owner Willie Kinsella over the years.
Like many fans of the bookstore, they were saddened to learn it was to close and after reading many of the memories people had of the store on social media, they realised they weren’t the only ones with a ‘Chapters’ story’.
“Myself and my business partner Kevin set up our original business which became Gamestop at the back of Chapters in Middle Abbey Street in 1994. Willie the owner has always been a good friend and mentor along the way and pushed us into making decisions that we might not have made without his guidance. He was very instrumental in our career and encouraged us to take risks, but calculated risks,” recalled Michael.
“When it was announced in October that it was going to close, I was talking to Willie and there was a bit of back and forth between myself and Kevin. We were looking at social media posts generated by its closure and saw that we weren’t the only ones that had a Chapters’ story. One couple went on their first date there, and another got engaged in the sci-fi section in klingon. Samantha Liberi of RTE remembered swapping her Enid Blyton books there
“There were so many stories to come out of there, we thought is there anything we could do to try to bring Chapters back and save it in some way.”
Chapters re-opened under the new ownership on Friday, 11th March and while Michael had planned on a “soft opening”, as soon as word got out, there was a huge reaction.
“It was meant to be a soft opening. The only advertising we did was a post on twitter but it snowballed so quickly. We were blown away by the reaction from customers and the media and all the well wishers and the lovely stories people had from their time in the store. It means a lot to us and is what prompted us to try to revive Chapters. We realised we weren’t the only with a Chapers story.
"It has been very busy, the customers have been fantastic. One elderly lady came all the way from Letterkenny on the bus to see us on opening day. We have got best wishes from as far away as Australia, Japan, the US and Canada.
“We have a long road ahead to bring it back to its glory days but we have made the first big step. We opened quite quickly. We announced on Tuesday that we had got our hands on it and we had to try to get stock back up on the shelves to open on Friday. Our 12-year-old and 14-year-old were washing floors and wiping down shelves. It was all hands on deck. Chapters was very much a family affair and I hope to continue to run it as a family business.”
Michael said he was like a child on Christmas Eve on Thursday night ahead of their re-opening and while he said they have a long road ahead, they are up for the challenge.
Chapters was always renowned for its second hand section and this is something that is central to their plans for the store. Michael outlined that secondhand books save 80 per cent of the carbon footprint of a new book and also makes books more accessible to a wider audience.
“It was something Chapters was known for for 40 years and will be at the centre of everything we do going forward. We will have all the latest releases as well, but the whole aspect of accessibility and sustainability is very important to us.”
Michael and Kevin set up their first gamestore business at the back of Chapters on Middle Abbey Street in 1994 which went on to become Gamestop. The duo sold their first tranche of shares in the Gamestop in 2003 and sold their last in 2014. Michael has been involved in some other business ventures since then but says this is the one that his family is most excited about and he is looking forward to them being involved and getting a grounding like he did.
Married to Dawn, the couple have four children Charlie (22), Millie (20), Ruby (14) and Lola who is 12.
Among his first plans for the store is to begin selling online and they hope to have that up and running in the next four to five weeks. It will be the first time in 40 years that Chapters will make a sale online.
Initially it will be new books but soon after, they intend to sell their secondhand books online as well.
Michael paid tribute to Chapters founders Willie and Ger Kinsella for the work they put into it over 39 years and said the success of Chapters was purely word of mouth and their customers championing it and the fact it was held in such high regard was all down to them.