Dolphin Bookshop closing after 76 Years

Since 1946, Dolphin Bookshop has been a beloved landmark in Port Washington.  After 76 years, it is closing its doors.  It has seen four owners during its time, and an increase in rent has forced the current owner, Judith Mitzner, to not renew the store’s lease.  

Over the years, Dolphin Bookshop held events such as the frequent “Meet the Author,” as well as others such as “Sunday Morning Story Time & Craft.”  Dolphin Bookshop is known for being more than just a business – it was a location in which readers gathered to share their appreciation for literature and a place that introduced many children to the joys of reading.  

“It’s really upsetting to hear that Dolphin is closing, because it was an amazing place to purchase books and grab a bite to eat. Port Washington won’t be the same without it,” said sophomore Ellie Hattem. 

Dolphin Bookshop saw many changes throughout its many years as a Port Washington staple.  Its original home was near the train station, followed by a residence on Port Washington Boulevard, near Weber Middle School and Schreiber High School.  In 2010, Dolphin Bookshop nearly doubled in size when it moved to the corner of Main Street and Shore Road.  Since this final move, Dolphin Bookshop has seen itself operating with between one to three storefronts, and at one point, even housed a coffee shop and vegetarian cafe.

One of the big selling points of Dolphin Bookshop for parents was their gift-wrapping.  Sarah Kurek recounts driving to the store 30 minutes before birthday parties for their child’s friends to buy a unique gift and have it wrapped.  They remember their own children receiving both gifts from Dolphin Bookshop and gift cards that led to literary adventures through the store.  Additionally, Carrie Daly shared that they had fond memories of seeing their child’s passion for reading specific book genres grow.  They allowed their child to gain a sense for each style of writing, and decide which they enjoyed the most.  In the end, it became a tradition for the parent and child to visit Dolphin Bookshop each month to pick out a new realistic fiction book.  Whether it be Stumptown Kid or Maniac Magee, each trip to Dolphin Bookshop meant this parent watching their child blossom as a reader.

During the last few years, the general public’s interest in buying local has changed immensely, which greatly impacted the bookstore.  As the COVID pandemic has run its course, its long-standing effect is that people are now less comfortable buying their products in person. After spending a year indoors, reading on Kindle, and buying groceries on Amazon Fresh, shoppers have maintained these now common practices.  Because of this, the people of Port Washington foresaw this closing, so at the end of the pandemic, a GoFundMe was started to help keep Dolphin Bookshop on its feet: when Dolphin Bookshop closed two of its three storefronts, it needed financial support in order to fit their selection in the one remaining storefront.  It was not created at the request of Dolphin, but was done out of pure love for the store. 

Even with the money raised by residents, the owners were forced to close down shop.  Dolphin Bookshop thrived for so long, so it comes as a surprise to many that its fall from grace is so sharp.  In the last few years, Dolphin has found itself unable to find a recipe for success, and its lack of modern adjustments led to its demise.  

Its final owner, Judith Mitzner regrettably voiced, “Over the [past] year, we haven’t seen the kind of traffic that we need in order to make it work.  This was a love project… but it’s asking for too much.”  

Whether it be Amazon or Barnes and Noble, the trend of big businesses has swallowed community traditions with ease, and Dolphin Bookshop may not be the last domino to fall.  Dolphin Bookshop was a staple in Port Washington, and its legacy will live on.