Book Store Held Up by Construction Delays

BookBuyers, a used bookstore which recently relocated from Mountain View, has set up shop in downtown Gilroy. But the store has run into delays as it works to open for business.

“I assumed we were going to be able to open by June 1,” said owner Hotranatha Ajaya. “Then I thought July 1. Now we’re on August 1 and we’re still not able to open.”

Ajaya and his wife, Punita, run the business together, while two dedicated staff members, Michael and Amy Allen, work part-time shelving books and selling books online to keep a “trickle of money” coming in. Ajaya is the only one installing bookcases.

“Our biggest problem is we’ve got 470 bookcases here, and I’ve got to get them all put up,” Ajaya said. “I’m not complaining, it’s just that I cannot get to it all and we really need to open.”

“With only two business owners and over 400 shelves, the workload is intense and discouraging,” said Abigail Smith, who met the Ajayas last week while working on a project for the Gilroy Downtown Design Committee with her mother. “What we need is a collective effort from the members of our community who inherently care about this business, and are willing to use their skills to help the operation.”

Ajaya plans on hiring more employees when the time is right.

“I will need employees before long, but we’re not going to take any on until we have the money to cover them,” he said.

Which leads to another obstacle: funding.

“I saved up $75,000 to be able to make this move,” Ajaya said. “That’s long gone.”

BookBuyers started aGoFundMe campaign when they were still in Mountain View to help cover costs. The campaign is a little less than halfway to the $35,000 goal.

“I thought we needed that much to make it, but we’ve made it this far without it!” Ajaya said.

The goal was set at $35,000 to help cover moving costs, as well as establishing a robust WiFi network and a Point of Sale system.

“We’ve never had a Point of Sale system,” Ajaya said. “We need one so when somebody comes in and says, ‘Do you have that book?’ We can say, ‘Yes, our database says it’s here.’”

The building that houses the bookstore is currently undergoing earthquake retrofitting. And while construction is being taken care of by the building’s owner, it’s another setback for the store.

“It worries me and my mother to see the amount of work that they need done,” Smith said. “We want this business to succeed in our community.”

Smith is leading the charge to drum up community support for BookBuyers by posting on Facebook and sharing the store’s GoFundMe campaign. She believes the store is a vital addition to downtown Gilroy.

“These owners have visions far beyond just selling used books,” she said. “They have plans to create a space for books to be celebrated—local students to hang out and do homework, special events such as book discussions by local authors and artists, and story-time hours for parents to bring their children. This type of space would be a huge step for our community, because it emphasizes the value of local talents, local resources, and pride in our town. This is a place that promotes not only reading and literature, but invites members of the community to enjoy a unique atmosphere of learning and creativity.”

Despite the hurdles in their path, Ajaya and his wife are optimistic and determined to get the store open.

“This place is going to be better than anything we’ve ever seen,” Ajaya said. “It’s old, it has character. We’re thrilled about the place and all the people we’ve met here.”