By Kristen Fiandaca
After the Rabbit Hole bookstore closed its doors at the end of January, many people were left disappointed and wondering if it might ever reopen. Throughout February, a study is being done to test the possibility of moving the Rabbit Hole bookstore closer to Fitchburg State University.
The Rabbit Hole, originally located at 805 Main St. in Fitchburg, was “a great place for college students to go,” says Jen Cote, a Rabbit Hole regular. “I feel terrible that it closed. Everyone I know is sad that it’s gone.”
The bookstore not only sold used books and vinyl records, but also hosted numerous music events, such as folk and electronica, as well as poetry readings and open mic. Cote says, “Every music show I attended at the Rabbit Hole, there’d always be an FSU student saying, ‘This place is so cool, I never knew it existed.’”
Many students agree that the Rabbit Hole had all the great aspects of a small, local business; so why wasn’t the bookstore doing well? “Overall it was a business that was breaking even, despite the economy and being a new business,” said Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong. “That means there is a great chance of success, if a new bookstore could learn what worked and what didn’t.”
The Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI), headed by FSU faculty researcher Dr. Keith Chenot, is testing the possibility of moving the Rabbit Hole into the Dickinson building at 320 Main St. This new location would be closer to some restaurants and a coffee shop, “all complementary to a bookstore,” says Mayor Wong. The intent of the study is to see if a concept can be developed for the vacant lower Main Street space, which would include a larger bookstore, coffee shop, and possibly a performance venue for creative artists.
The study will include an analysis of the vacant space, building code regulations, and design options to explore the potential of this location, and to see if this new location might better serve both the local and university communities.
According to Mayor Wong, there’s a lot of student support for reopening the Rabbit Hole; many students had said that the previous location was too far away and they would go more often if they could walk.
“I personally wouldn’t want to walk downtown through sketchy areas, so I think moving it closer to the school is a good idea,” says Jason Flinkstrom, FSU graduate.
The REDI study is only a first step in a series of projecrs; any project that would bring back the Rabbit Hole would involve purchasing the store from the 13 owners, according to the Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise.
“The plans that we’ve been discussing are rather exciting,” said Sam Montgomery, the store’s general manager. “To interest investors, we’ve been in discussions with some great bands and musicians that many students would find exciting to have show up at their doorstep.”
Mayor Wong added, “I am excited about the possible reopening and hope that the college community continues to support its reopening.”