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Duthie Books at West 4th Ave., Vancouver.

PETER BENNETT/Peter Bennett/The Globe and Mail

Duthie Books 4th Avenue will close at the end of February, marking the end of the Duthie family's more than five decades of bookselling in Vancouver.

The 4th Avenue store was the sole Duthie outlet to remain in operation after the bookseller filed for bankruptcy in 1999, the victim of fierce competition and an unsuccessful expansion strategy. The company was founded by in 1957 by Bill Duthie and in its heyday had ten stores, including a flagship downtown location.

The 4th Avenue store has had good years over the past decade, but over the past two years been smacked by the strengthening Canadian dollar, which ate into the booksellers' already-slim profit margins, said manager Cathy Legate, one of three siblings involved in the business.

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"Most of the year for a bookseller you're a little bit in the red," Ms. Legate said Tuesday. "And you just have to build up a stockpile to get through the rest of the year - and I didn't."

Independent booksellers can't compete against big box chains on price and demographic and technological trends are also hurting the business, Ms. Legate said. Duthie's was also facing a rent increase for its premises on a busy Kitsilano shopping strip, where monthly rent had already climbed to $16,000 from $13,000 over the past couple of years.

The business was founded by Bill Duthie, a storied bookseller who championed authors and wheeled-and-dealed with publishers, becoming a fixture on the Canadian literary scene. The company has decided to close its last outpost so it can do so in an orderly fashion and not under pressure from creditors or suppliers, Ms. Legate said. The store's last annual sale begins January 28.

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