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Castro Books Inc. Loses Lease, Will Close In Mid-June [Updated]

Photo: Shane Downing/Hoodline
By Shane Downing - Published on March 15, 2016.

The long-running Castro location of local bookstore chain Books Inc. has announced that it has lost its lease at 2275 Market St., and will close in mid-June.

According to an announcement from Books Inc. CEO Michael Tucker, the closure "does not reflect the overall health of Books, Inc. or the book industry."

"We have served customers and authors in the Castro for over 20 years and thank everyone for the support," said Tucker. "We look forward to continuing service for the community at our Opera Plaza location," which, Tucker says, will begin carrying an expanded selection of LGBT selections.

Tucker notes that all employees of the Castro's Books Inc. location have been given the option to transfer to another location, and those that decline will be offered severance packages. "There are no layoffs scheduled for the company," he emphasizes. The bookstore has 10 Bay Area locations, with a new Santa Clara outpost set to open this summer.  

Adjusted hours for the Castro bookstore are 11am-8pm through the mid-June closure. 

Update, 12pm: We spoke with Tucker, who told us that the closure hits him hard on a personal level. "That was the first store that we opened when we took over the company: in the Castro," he said. "That’s where we wanted to land."

The Castro, with its abundance of retail vacancies, would seem primed for a new Books Inc. location. But Tucker says that the company won't be pursuing another address in the Castro. "Right now, we had a fairly decent lease and the biggest issue for a bookstore, which has terrible margins, is trying to be able to get in with occupancy costs that aren’t killer," he said. The store's lease ends at the beginning of July, and "it wasn't financially feasible for the company to re-up for another five year lease."

"It’s been a tough slog because sales have continued to trail off. When the store continues to be in the red and then it continues to go down and occupancy costs go up, and everything else in the city continues to go up, it starts going in the wrong direction."

Of the business' tenure in the Castro, Tucker says, "It’s been terrific. The engagement we have there, the author events we have there, so many of the debut authors and people coming up—it was where we wanted to be and what we wanted to do, so we’re sorry that we can’t make it a viable option there."

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