Port Washington’s Dolphin Bookshop to close after 76 years

Port Washington’s Dolphin Bookshop to close after 76 years
The Dolphin Bookstore. The Port Washington store will close its doors permanently at the end of the month, the business announced on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

After 76 years, the storied Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington will permanently close its doors at the end of the month, the business announced Monday.

Founded in 1946, the independently owned bookstore, cafe and gift shop at 299 Main St. has had several owners and locations over its existence. It has hosted book readings, events and signings.

Judith Mitzner, who has owned the store for nearly a decade, said the decision was years in the making.

“The truth is it’s not been working for a long time,” she said. “Every year, the sales numbers decline and every year I hope that things will change.”

Mitzner gave the business another year to experience growth after an attempt to downsize and consolidate the store last year. But she said the figures did not improve. Her rent was also raised, which prompted the decision.

In the announcement’s wake, the store is having a clearance sale. Everything is at a 40% discount when purchased with cash or a credit card.

“I always hoped that we were going to see some positive motion in a good direction,” said Mitzner. “It didn’t have to be amazing, it didn’t have to be earth-shattering. It just had to be in the right direction and we’re not seeing it.”

Like many other small businesses, the store also struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, supporters started a GoFundMe campaign to help the downsizing effort, which brought in $6,744.

Mitzner, a self-described optimist, said she was hoping for a miracle. But despite her and the staff’s efforts, she said the momentum never changed.

“We who work in the store, love the store and you come in and you put all your heart and soul and energy into making it beautiful and being here for the community,” she said. “It’s a lot of heart and energy for no payoff. And I don’t mean financial payoff.”

Mitzner does not have immediate plans for the future. She said that she’ll focus on what comes next only after the store officially closes down.

“The store has been on my mind for so long that not having to think about the store seems completely foreign,” she said. “I can’t even imagine it. So I have to wait until it’s actually a thing to really realize what the next thing is for me.”

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