< /p> On January 31, 2023, Michal Ženíšek's bookshop, which was not only a store but also a cultural and community center for 33 years, will finally close in the Alfa passage in Brno on January 31, 2023. Bookseller Michal Ženíšek is pictured.
Brno – After 33 years, Michal Ženíšek, the first private book seller in Brno, opened his shop for the last time. The owner of the Alfa arcade decided not to renew his contract in the fall. After saying goodbye to the last customer, Ženíšek still has two weeks to clear out the premises. His bookstore was not only a store, but also a cultural and community center.
“It's sad, isn't it,” said Ženíšek in an interview with ČTK, while posing for a photo by the half-empty shelves. Ženíšek calls the library ladders hanging from them “tips of the European intellect”. They do have a spike on their top, but otherwise it is an ironic label
Ženíšek was able to create a bookstore to which many customers liked to return, the owner liked to talk to them and they liked to talk to him. And people went not only for books. Today, operatic tones flowed from the loudspeakers, exceptionally they could also be heard live in the bookstore. The opera company Hausopera performed here several times. Among the chamber operas that the association performed in the bookstore was Hra o malinu – a gift from the librettist Josef Škarka to Ženíšek himself, who opened the first bookstore in 1990 in the nearby Květinářské Street. People have been able to find him in Passage Alpha for the past 18 years.
Even though selling books is a business, Ženíšek did not see it that way. “It's a mission,” he says. According to Ženíšek, the owner of the arcade, Vladimír Hrdina, already wanted a more profitable operation. It is not yet clear what it will be like. No one else wanted to take over the operation of the bookstore. The fact that Ženíšek has been paying the same rent for the past 18 years also documents that the bookshop's earnings were by no means large. That's also why he doesn't have to give notice to the owner out of spite. “I respect Mr. Hrdina and I value his entire family. His grandchildren actually grew up here. They liked me and when I was in debt, they told Hrdina 'don't worry, we won't fire you, our company loves you',” confided Ženíšek.
When one of the last customers came to him today, he begged him to write a dedication in his memory book. Ženíšek described almost the entire free page of Škvorecký Zbabělc with his dedication. He received a thank you from another customer for his many years of activity.
Among the famous personalities who have visited him in the past, for example, is the deceased Ivana Trumpová. But Ženíšek likes to remember others. With a smile, he mentioned, for example, the visit of “Mr. Jiří”. His grandmother once looked for him by phone, for whom he was supposed to come to Medlánky after arriving in Brno. However, the steps of Mr. Jiří, who had just arrived from Detroit, were first directed towards the books, which Jiří then looked at all afternoon.
There are no special plans to say goodbye to the space he moved into 18 years ago. In addition to “simply closing the door” behind him, he had a small farewell party with friends and employees today. “Unless there's a surprise coming,” laughs his part-time employee.
A number of smaller bookshops have disappeared in Brno in recent years, both in the center and especially outside it. The reason was both the growing sale of books via the Internet and the influence of large book chains that have stores in the historic center and shopping centers.