Vernon’s Monahan Agency announced Wednesday (March 11) it will be closing down, following in the footsteps of its downtown bookstore Bookland.
The news of the agency’s closure came from the man who started it all: Tom Monahan.
The family-owned and operated wholesale book and magazine distribution agency will cease operations May 1.
“This is an end of an era and a sign of the times that this local business is sadly closing after 73 years,” Monahan said.
The agency is crediting much of its closure to the challenges faced in a booming digital age.
“The most serious was the amount of time individuals were spending on their devices, which left less time for reading, and the onslaught of Amazon, and last, but not least, the publishers were printing less and less magazine titles,” the release states.
“But, due to strong and loyal management and staff, the Monahan Agency adapted and survived longer than most.
What started as a business in a 400-square-foot garage expanded to a 25,000-square-foot warehouse with more than 60 employees and 500 customers.
From the Okanagan Valley, its service area expanded throughout the province and into the Yukon with more than $30-million in annual sales.
In the 1970s, under Monahan’s management, the business expanded again to include the Okanagan’s only TV Guide and Vernon’s first retail bookstore, Bookland.
Over the years, the number of wholesale distributors diminished from 30 to three across Canada. Now, with Monahan’s closure, only two remain.
“The unfortunate facts of these changing times have made Monahan Agency’s closure inevitable,” the statement reads.
Monahan said around 18 local employees will be affected by the closure and an additional 10 part-time workers from around the province and beyond will be impacted.
He said the agency’s closure was the result of a domino effect.
“It was a variety of things, magazine publishers quit printing and we went from 300 a week to 150,” he said. “So, of course, our sales went down.”
To stay above water, the agency consolidated a lot.
“Our warehouse was 25,000 square feet,” Monahan said. “Then we rented half of it out and our three big trucks went down to two.
Succumbing to the pressures of digital giants such as Amazon was unavoidable, he said.
“It’s just the way of life,” he said. “We can’t change those things.”
“We had a wild ride and it dwindled down to nothing.”