MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WRIC) — The Book Exchange of Midlothian was in danger of closing for good after decades of service to the community. The owner was worried she wouldn’t be able to find a buyer during the pandemic. But thanks to one regular customer, she can finally retire and the store can start a new chapter.

Martha Graydon’s parents opened the store in 1986 and she joined the staff in 1991. Graydon said her father and brother died before her mother passed away in 2010, leaving her as the last remaining member of the family who was running the bookstore.

“I’ve spent the better part of this year feeling like I was going to have to bury them all over again because it really did look like I was gonna have to just close the doors,” Graydon said.

Graydon was searching for a buyer who would keep the shop going – she said bookstores are an integral part of what makes a community.

She began searching in January for someone to purchase the shop, but then the coronavirus made the hunt for a new owner even harder. Graydon says she dropped the price of the store several times, but feared her luck had run dry.

“What am I going to do with the stock? Because sale or no sale, I was still going to be left with 70,000 books I was gonna have to get rid of. With corona, donations were really, really in question,” Graydon said. “I feared I’d have to start recycling my books and that was going to be awful.”

The shop’s community of regular customers even tried raising money using a GoFundMe campaign to try to earn enough to purchase the store, but to no avail.

That all changed in July when one of Graydon’s regular customers stepped forward to continue running the store. She was overjoyed with the news.

Graydon says the new owner can run the shop however she’d like – she is just happy that her community can still enjoy their favorite bookstore.

“I have books to read… I have a tremendous amount of catching up to do,” Graydon said of what she’s planning to do in retirement. “It’ll still be here [the shop]. I can come in any time I want… I hope!”

The change in store ownership officially begins September 1, and the history of the store will remain part of the story for years to come.