Willard and Holly Williams

Owner Willard Williams, seen here in 2016 with his wife, Holly, started the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough in 1972. Now he’s looking to sell the business.

PETERBOROUGH — After nearly 50 years at the helm of Toadstool Bookshops, Willard Williams announced Wednesday he is looking for a new owner for the store, which has locations in Keene, Peterborough and Nashua.

Williams, 69, opened the original shop on Peterborough’s Main Street in 1972, along with several investors and family members including his older sister, Jenny, according to a news release from the business. The shops have grown over the years thanks to strong customer support, Williams said, and his top priority now is finding a new owner who shares his commitment to the community.

“I don’t have a specific timeline in mind or deadline or anything,” Williams, a Greenfield resident, said in a phone interview. “I’m just more interested in making sure the transition is to the right person or people. ... I just want it to be sure it’s in the right hands, and a good future for it.”

Williams said he plans to stay with the company, which employs about 30 people across it three stores, long enough to help the new owner get settled. After that, he would retire, but intends to stay in the area where he has lived his entire life.

“I would certainly continue to help out in any kind of transition, but certainly back off working six days a week, 10-hour days,” he said.

Toadstool’s 50th anniversary next May could be a target date to complete the transition, Williams added, but he is more focused on finding a suitable owner than selling the business quickly.

“It’s not something that has to happen instantly, but I realized I would like to have some sort of transitional plan in place,” he said. “We’re basically looking for some new energy, some new blood, somebody to take it on and do what we’ve done.”

Ideally, Williams said the new owner would take over all of the existing Toadstool Bookshop locations, but that could depend on who is interested in buying the business. The company owns its building at 12 Depot St. in Peterborough but rents space at 12 Emerald St. in Keene and 375 Amherst St. in Nashua.

According to the news release, anyone interested in purchasing the business should contact Williams at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough at 603-924-3543 or by email at books@ptoad.com.

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or jrooney@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.