The Regulator owners are retiring. Here’s what’s next for the Ninth Street fixture

The Regulator bookshop will be changing ownership after 40 years of operation under co-owners Tom Campbell and John Valentine.
The Regulator bookshop will be changing ownership after 40 years of operation under co-owners Tom Campbell and John Valentine. Courtesy of The Regulator

After 40 years of running Durham’s Ninth Street staple, The Regulator Bookshop, co-owners Tom Campbell and John Valentine are leaving the bookshop business.

The duo will both retire from running the independent book store in March.

“It’s just we are not as young as we once were and we were thinking of moving on,” Campbell said of the time of his retirement. “We had two people who were interested in taking over that we thought would do a good job, and it all kind of came together.”

Campbell said it would too difficult to put into words what The Regulator has meant to the community for the past four decades, and that leaving the store would be “bittersweet, but mostly sweet.”

“I think (the store) has been, hopefully, a great community resource for people to come and browse, to explore and learn and to have conversations and meet authors,” he said.

Campbell and Valentine will be selling the store to Wander Lorentz de Haas and Elliot Berger, both longtime employees at The Regulator. Campbell and Valentine will retain ownership of the building.

Lorentz de Haas said he wanted to buy the store because he believes it’s important to keep an independent, progressive book store open in the city. He added that a lot of customers had been asking what would happen to the business, since there were rumors that Campbell and Valentine were approaching retirement.

“There is a real need to keep a community bookstore, where people can share intellectual ideas,” Lorentz de Haas said. “It would have left a void.”

Lorentz de Haas – who has been an employee at The Regulator for 27 years – said that customers can expect the store to operate similarly to how it has in the past.

But the new owners do want to make some physical changes to the shop.

The store will launch a crowdfunding campaign next week to make cosmetic changes to the store’s interior and also install a new software system. The current point-of-sale and inventory software was installed in the 1990s, Lorentz de Haas said.

The Regulator hopes to raise around $63,000 from the crowdfunding campaign. Funds would also be used to hire an employee who would head up a literacy program and to start an annual book festival in Durham.

The store plans to announce a special event to celebrate longtime owners Campbell and Valentine in the coming weeks.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes