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Bookpoint shuts down after family dispute

Wednesday November 26 2014

Pedestrians walk past Bookpoint on Nairobi's Moi Avenue on June 25 2013. Bookpoint, one of Nairobi’s oldest bookstores, shuts down after more than seven decades in operation.

Pedestrians walk past Bookpoint on Nairobi's Moi Avenue on June 25 2013. Bookpoint, one of Nairobi’s oldest bookstores, shuts down after more than seven decades in operation. FILE PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL 

SIMON CIURI
By SIMON CIURI
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One of Nairobi’s oldest bookstores, Bookpoint, has shut down after more than seven decades in operation over what a manager of the shop attributed to a family dispute.

Bookpoint, which is located on the busy Moi Avenue, closed earlier this month.

A former manager of the iconic bookstore, Ashwin Shah, said in an interview Thursday that the shop has been closed indefinitely with no plans to reopen it.

“We have decided to close due to family-related issues that are not important to discuss for now,’’ said Mr Shah, declining to discuss the matter further.

He, however, said that two of his uncles who inherited the stores from their father had relocated from Kenya to seek medical treatment abroad, affecting operations of the business.

CLEARANCE SALE

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“My two uncles were the ones who were mainly involved in the running of the business,” said Mr Shah, adding that there were disagreements “on certain issues”.

He said that there are plans to have a clearance sale, but a date has not been set.

The Bookpoint heirs are also said to be the owners of Loan House, which hosted the bookshop, and the adjacent Guilders Centre, which houses K-Rep Bank on the ground floor of Moi Avenue.

Bookpoint is said to have been started way back in 1938 by businessman Jethalal Shah, who opened the shop under the name Hemraj Hirji and Bros, according to an earlier story in The EastAfrican newspaper published in August last year.

He began by selling nuts and fruit juice to movie-goers.

Later, he diversified into Indian magazines and newspapers in Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.

By 1948, Mr Shah was selling English syllabus books, stationery and greeting cards in Ngara to students close by at the town’s government Indian schools, today’s City Primary and Jamhuri High schools.

His descendants Dipak and Sudhir Shah continued the tradition that later led to the creation of the now collapsed Bookpoint.

The article first appeared in The Business Daily.