August 21, 2014

Sam Weller’s Books Building Sold

Salt Lake City’s largest and oldest bookseller to be moving to a smaller location, but future for bookseller still remains uncertain.

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Tony Weller

Tony Weller has operated the bookstore since 1997, when his father Sam lost his eyesight. Sam Weller died in 2008. The bookstore was started by Tony’s Grandfather Gustav Weller in 1929.

After a year on the market and much speculation, Salt Lake City’s oldest and largest private bookstore has finally sold its building and is preparing for a big move.

Sam Weller’s Books, currently located on Main Street, has been plagued by the poor economy and by booming e-book sales. And with iPads continuing to surpass even Apple’s sales expectations, the future of any brick and mortar bookseller is uncertain as best.

Store manager Tony Weller recently confirmed to Utah Stories that he finally managed to find a buyer for the 70,000 square foot building. “We wanted to wait so we could lay it all out for the public,” he says. “We were conniving to keep this under wraps. But we knew with the real estate companies this would have been difficult for an extended period of time.”

sam weller's books

Sam Weller Bookstore has been located on 254 South Main Street in the David Keith building in downtown Salt Lake City since 1961. According to Weller the location is far too large to support their business.

“The real pressing matter is most days I come to work and lose money,” he reports. “The current market place just can’t support a store our size and we need to find smaller accommodations as soon as possible.”

When asked the details of his future location, he told us he was currently comparing six properties, but says he still doesn’t know when or where the move will take place. Land speculation, he says, is making it nearly impossible to find a suitable location.

“Despite their being so many empty buildings around, empty building prices haven’t come down. Right now banks are the biggest impediments to getting anything that would work for us.”

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