An open letter to Browseabout’s Steve and Barbara Crane

December 10, 2020

The torch has been passed to the next generation of bookstore ownership, but we should not commend the present without acknowledgement of the past.  I have only been in the Rehoboth community for 16 years, ironically the same length of time that the new owner, Susan Kehoe, has been employed at Browseabout Books. 

However, in that relatively short period of time I have come to know and exchange thoughts and ideas with the man, Steve, who had the insight to open a bookstore in Lower Slower Delaware. In 1975, I too came to Delaware for the first time, to New Castle County actually. I was hired as the principal of Gauger Middle School in Newark, having absolutely no idea of the real estate south of the canal. It took about 30 years to find that out.

To have had the foresight and courage to found a bookstore of all enterprises is an absolute tribute to what would have had to have been a pioneer in entrepreneurship for the retail market of Sussex County.  I have no idea what the bookstore looked like back then, nor do I dare surmise what book sales may have been or not been, but I am certainly thankful that the Cranes took that step.  When I arrived in the area in 2004, there were two Atlantic Books stores, neither of which matched the caliber and merchandising of Browseabout.  The proof of that particular pudding is that Atlantic is not, and Browseabout is.  

Clearly the strength of any company is in the leadership and in the people whom one hires to assist the CEO in running the place. 

Steve certainly gets an A+ in that regard.  Those of us Cape folk and the hundreds of tourists who visited the beach for the 45 years are indeed indebted to the Cranes, who had a vision that the readers among us needed a place to be, a place to read, a place to buy books, a place to browse. Thank you for that vision! 

I too well recall conversations I had in my first years in the area with several of the “regulars” who sipped coffee and spun tales.  Steve would often sit with us and contribute his words of wit and wisdom.

And there was also the humor of Woody, and the insights of Jose, with verbiage added by several others each morning.  Thank you for bringing that group into your store. I, for one, learned so much from all of you - some valuable, some not.

As in the movies of yore, you are riding off into the sunset, having tamed a town with books, corralled the rustlers with truths, and comforted the librarian with respect.  

However, there is no sunset without sunrise and sunshine, and for both of those natural and virtual phenomena we thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Crane. 

Only the Good Lord knows what lies ahead on the other side of the rainbow for this well-travelled couple, but we can certainly surmise a future filled with love and happiness. 

If I may be so bold as to speak for the Readers of Rehoboth, we thank you.

Peter E. Carter
  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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