A Clinton is running for President and Donald Trump is all over the media headlines, in this crazy world where old is new again, the ’90s are back, and downtown Gilroy is getting a bookstore.
Amid rising rents and the prospect of an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour in less than two years, BookBuyers,a 23-year denizen of Castro Street in Mountain View, is moving into the old Dick Bruhn’s building on Monterey Street, a site vacant since 2007 when the clothing retailer went out of business.
Shop owner Hotranatha Ajaya aims to open the used bookstore in the summer and is currently working on setting up the space, about 6,500 square feet.
Already one can see changes to the building, including the removal of old signage at the back and wood paneling at the front, allowing a stream of light to pour in, brightening up two large rooms currently filled with a jumble of bookshelves and construction materials.
Rammurti Reed and his wife, Sita, opened BookBuyers in Palo Alto 26 years ago. When that building was sold, BookBuyers reopened in Mountain View January 1, 1994. Ajaya, who had been with them in 1993, was taken in as half-owner, along with his wife, Punita, in 1999. Rammurti and Sita provided strong leadership in the business throughout the years until their retirement in 2014.
“But we were small then,” said Ajaya, who as part of the move has the daunting task of inventorying over 300,000 book titles.
While the decision to move 30 miles south from his former location has been met with some skepticism, Ajaya is hopeful and has many ideas for the new store.
“With so many people going to the ’net for used books, we have had to add new dimensions to the business,” he said.
Like his previous store on Castro Street, which became an integral part of the social fabric of the district, where folks could leisurely browse the bookshelves after dinner or take in a talk by a local author, Ajaya wants the Gilroy shop to become a community center.
“There will be a meeting room for events, book readings, storytime for children,” he said.
Workshops on how to write and publish proved very popular, he added.
“Our author talk series was very well received,” he said. “There are just so many authors in this area.”
And for wordsmiths who want to showcase their literary skills, Ajaya floated the idea of open mic nights.
“It will be just like the old one but better.”
In the book business for 25 years, Ajaya is originally from Oklahoma and came to California in 1979 with his wife, to whom he’s been married more than 40 years.
At this early stage, Ajaya does not know what the state of book acquisition will be like in Gilroy, and is mulling a way to continue buying up north to keep the store stocked with compelling titles.
“We work by people bringing books in, and taking other books out,” he explained. “It’s not like borrowing, it’s like trading, and we need a lot of activity like that.”
With hundreds of thousands of titles, ranging from American classics like Catcher in the Rye to biographies of your favorite 20th century president, BookBuyers in downtown Gilroy will have something for everyone.
“We’ll have a huge children’s section, large comic section, a mass market section, 23 bookshelves of religion—all types—nonfiction,” said Ajaya. “One of the nice things about this profession is you are always coming across books you’ve never seen before.”
Sometimes customers do not want to browse but want a particular title fast, so Ajaya aims to install his first-ever point-of-sale system at the Gilroy store, making it easier for staff to quickly locate titles on the shelf.
BookBuyers is running a GoFundMe Campaign to help with moving costs and the installation of the POS system, go to https://www.gofundme.com/BookBuyersMVMoving.