Thursday, August 28, 2014

Oakland's Laurel Book Store Relocating

Well, it's now public! Laurel Book Store in Oakland will be moving into a ground floor space in the First National Bank Building, now known as the Lionel Wilson Building at 14th and Broadway. It was most recently a bank, so it looks very elegant.

From Luan Strauss, owner:

Dear Reader & Friend of Laurel Book Store,

     I am so happy to announce that we have secured a new location for the store!     
     As many of you know, about a year ago, knowing that our lease would end last month, I started looking for a larger space with better flexibility for events, better access to transportation, and a bit more foot traffic. The store took a hit when Lucky's supermarket left and it didn't get any better with the discount market that took its place. Many of the businesses on the boulevard have felt the slowdown.
     I began working with a great team of real estate professionals in Heidi Kearsley and Nicolette Sommer, and they showed me quite a few places. All of them needed this done or that done or were in locations that just didn't seem right.
     Then they asked me to meet them at a spot that was both larger than I specified and closer to downtown than we had been looking into so far.
     Do you know that feeling when you walk into a place and it just feels right? Like you can instantly imagine what you'd do with the space, how you'd spend your time there, and who would walk in and be happy to be there?
     That's what happened to me. I felt it. But just to make sure, we arranged another visit and I took two rational, level-headed people to see it. They immediately had the same feeling I did.
     And now, after much working of paper, many sleepless nights, and a great deal of planning, it's finally real.
     We will be moving into a ground floor space in the First National Bank Building, now known as the Lionel Wilson Building at 14th and Broadway. It was most recently a bank, so it looks very elegant. (And one friend wisely noted that it's used to money already.)  

The corner spot at the pointed end of the building right next to us is under construction to be the Downtown Wine Merchants. Oaklandish, Bittersweet, Awaken Cafe, The Tribune Tavern, and Pro Arts are all just steps away. The Marriott is four blocks away, the Fox is five and the Paramount is seven. There is a daily population of 100,000 office workers, and yes, there is parking. (Some with validation!) Several lots are within a short block and there are many on street spaces on the other side of Broadway. Plus there are buses and of course BART. We still have online ordering and can mail your books and of course we will continue to offer ebooks right from our website.
     We would never have been able to take this step had it not been for 13 amazing years in the Laurel District with some of the most wonderful customers and friends anywhere. That's why I won't change the store name, I know where my roots are.
     We're already fielding questions, so here are some FAQs. (Or in some cases FOQs- Freaking Out Questions)

Why? (or, Why are you doing this to me?) I love the neighborhood, I live in Maxwell Park, and I hope to see many of my customers in the shiny new location. I never thought I'd stay in this 900 sq. ft. space for 13 years. I've always planned for a larger store. While it would have been nice to stay in the Laurel or nearby, economics led me to widen my search field. I am looking forward to temperature control, not to have to move heavy bookcases for events, and most of all, the opportunity to truly grow the business.

When Will It Happen? (or, When do I have to pick up the book I ordered?)  Much depends on the work that needs to be done. I have a crackerjack contractor and we'll work hard to open as soon as possible. Best guess is early October. It looks like we'll be in the current store through September, but that could change. (So pick up your book now.)

Why downtown? It's so far away! (or, Why can't you stay close to my house?) See above. And I've heard people say that they either take BART often or they go downtown for social events as often as I have from people who predict that they will never see us again. If you haven't been downtown lately- give it a chance. There is more life there now than there has been in many years thanks to the enterprising business people who are there. I'm honored to be joining the mix.

Is There Parking? (or, Okay, I'll try, but how far will I have to walk?)  Yes, there's parking. Many on street spots and several lots within a block or so.

What About All Those Other Things You Do? (or, What about package receiving, Maxwell Park items, and getting my book quickly?)  I'm making arrangements for a business on the boulevard to offer to accept packages for those who need that. I'm talking with others about carrying the Maxwell Park shirts, and I'm even talking with a business about having a book hold bin so that we have a secure place to drop off your order where it would be easy to pick up. And you can always have something mailed to you. Of course we want you to come to the store, but I understand the reality of geography.

Okay, okay. Sounds great. How Can I Help? (or, I'm reluctantly happy for you.) We're so grateful for all the offers to help that we've already received. We will definitely be having a book-packing party at the current store, and an unpacking party at the new store. Please continue to support us while we're here and bring your business downtown when we move.
     In addition to our investment and an SBA loan, we are raising funds through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Please click here to join in and get some great perks in the bargain.
     And please spread the word. If you work downtown, let people know that they will now have a bookstore in the neighborhood. If you want a flier to post, I'll have one ready soon.
     And again, thank you for all your support. I couldn't have done it without you.

1 comment:

Priscilla said...

Thank you for posting, Janet! And moving into a former bank space must be a good thing!