Toadstool moving to new location

After 30 years in Milford’s Lorden Plaza, the popular independent bookseller Toadstool Books is preparing to move into a bright, new location in Nashua’s Somerset Plaza at 374 Amherst St. in Nashua. The store is hoping to be up and running within the next week or so.

Toadstool general manager Michael Joachim said the decision to move was prompted by the its current landlord’s “squeezing out” the bookseller to the lower section of the plaza where there is visibly less traffic.

Willard Williams, his wife Holly, and his family are the owners of three Toadstool locations, which also includes stores in Peterborough and Keene.

“The lease was up here so they needed to make a decision,” said Joachim of the owners’ resolution to relocate to the Gate City. “One of the bigger issues was that Lorden Plaza was for sale and was owned by the bank – there was no invested owner managing the property. It was just in a state of flux. Toadstool wanted to stay in Milford, we’ve been part of this community for a really long time, but the folks involved in negotiating the lease weren’t motivated to work with us.”

Roughly one-third of Lorden Plaza in Milford is empty and that prompted Williams to look for other real estate ventures.

“We found the new location, which is further away, but we have a great relationship with our customers in Milford and don’t want that to change,” said Joachim. “We do a lot of business with schools, we have a lot of customers who have been coming here for decades, so we really didn’t want to just leave.”

It was a difficult decision for the popular bookstore to change its locale but with less foot traffic in Milford, the choice quickly became obvious.

“Ultimately, it was an economic decision,” added Joachim. “Willard tried several times to work out a deal to stay in Milford, but it didn’t happen.”

The new space in Nashua will provide an additional 1,000 square feet of space, with 6,000 in total. It will include a café, and will offer for 15-20% more shelving fixtures, therefore allowing even more book selection.

“It’s new construction, it’s all open and it’s right next door to Market Basket,” said Joachim. “I live in Massachusetts and often stop into that Market Basket on my way home two to three times a week. It’s busy at 8:45PM at night. This place [in Milford] rolls up at 5:30 p.m.”

Joachim stated that a mattress retailer was previously located in the Somerset Plaza location, never really opened.

He also said that even with the hurdles of being on the less active, short side of the Lorden Plaza lot, Toadstool in Milford has remained surprisingly busy.

“Willard put a lot effort and resources in the Milford location,” said Joachim. “That speaks volumes.”

Joachim further stated that being closer to the highway in Nashua, the new store location will offer more events and author appearances.

Despite pressure from national book chains, independent bookstores have staged an unexpected comeback; between 2009 and 2015, the American Booksellers Association reported a 35% growth in the number of independent booksellers, from 1,151 stores to nearly 2,300.

There’s also the sense of community, as independent booksellers were some of the first to champion the idea of localism.

“We look forward to promoting local books and authors and promoting books in general in our new Nashua location,” Joachim said. “It’s a great space. I think our customers will be pleased.”