Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Home News
Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009 | 1:44 p.m.
Cheesecake and Crime
Facing economic collapse in the new year and no cash for payroll, independent bookseller Cheesecake and Crime did what the world’s largest banks, car dealers and financial services institutions have done: The owners asked for a bailout.
But unlike most of those S&P 500 companies, they won’t be reorganizing with federal money. In fact, they won’t be reorganizing at all.
Henderson's last locally owned new mainstream bookseller will close its doors on Feb. 28. Its owners — bookseller Pamela Mains and her husband, Lendall, a cheesecake chef — are regrouping after an appeal to friends brought in enough money to keep the store open through January.
These Henderson executives aren’t getting sweetheart bonuses or corporate pensions.
“We’re not a big business,” Pamela Mains said Monday at her bookstore, where the signs of closure were already evident: sale signs on the windows, depleting merchandise on the shelves, price tags on everything. “We had no big perks. No redecorating my office for a million dollars. None of that fun stuff.”
Mains and her husband, cheesecake chef Lendall Mains, opened the store at 10545 S. Eastern Avenue about 14 months ago. They started off correctly, and at first, the money was coming in, Lendall Mains said. They used all their savings and retirement monies to build out the 2,300-square-foot space, which came to about $350,000, he said.
They did everything right to make a small business successful, said fan Bernice Davidson, who owns Davidson Associates, a Henderson marketing and promotions company.
“The economy is putting her out of business because people are just afraid to spend money,” she said.
Davidson is still in disbelief that her favorite bookstore is closing. She attended her final book club meeting Monday night, but she’s hesitant to say “final.” She is hoping for an angel to intercede.
Over the store’s life it has garnered an e-mail list of about 1,800 customers. Mains sent out her bailout request to those customers around Christmas.
“For years people have told me, when you get in trouble, ask friends for help,” Mains said. “So, I thought, let’s do our own bail-out e-mail. We told people we’re in dire straits. It calls for desperate actions. Please send us $100.”
She also sent out a letter to all of Nevada’s political representatives, asking for the help they’d given the auto companies and the banks. The only response they got was a form letter from Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Loyal customers cared enough to send in about $1,700. Some also blitzed the store with hundred of dollars in book purchases. Mains received one negative response to her request.
The gifts helped them fund payroll and stay open through January. By that time the business was just down to one contract employee, sous chef Liz Kerr. Laid-off employees have continued to come in to volunteer.
“I want them to succeed,” former employee Sharon Pritchard said. She’s been laid off twice from the bookstore and comes in twice a week just to help.
It is common for family and friends to donate their time to keep the family business running. But in this economic environment, even that hasn’t helped. The Mainses have slashed book prices 40 percent. They’re selling all the assets. The Cheesecake and Crime trademark, its popular recipes and concept are also for sale, but the couple may decide to hold onto it for cheerier times.
“I’m glad we did it,” Pamela Mains said. “His dream was to have a bakery. Mine was to have a bookstore. So we combined the two and it worked — for a while.”
She said the couple will struggle financially for the next few months. They still have Lendall Mains’ architectural business. But that has limited credit and is down to one contract employee from eight.
“It all comes back to the economy,” Pamela Mains said. “And everybody is in the same boat.”
Mains will continue her publisher accounts so that she can work as an independent seller at special events. She also hopes to start a career as a marketing agent for authors. They also will keep the Web site, www.cheesecakeandcrime.com, and phone number so they can do special events.
Mains will still be driving her 2005 Chrysler around town. She won’t be going any where in a jet anytime soon.
Becky Bosshart can be reached at 990-7748 or [email protected].