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March 3, 2024

At long last, Gilroy will have a bookstore again

– The Wize Owl is coming to Gilroy to fill the lonely stomachs
of many local bookworms who have been starving for their own
full-service bookstore for more than four years.
GILROY – The Wize Owl is coming to Gilroy to fill the lonely stomachs of many local bookworms who have been starving for their own full-service bookstore for more than four years.

Planning to open in early December, the independently and locally-owned Wize Owl Books Inc. on the northeast corner of Santa Teresa Boulevard and First Street will begin to color in years of blank pages in Gilroy’s bookstore history.

“A bookstore is something I thought about for a long time and something we really need here in Gilroy,” said Michele Campbell, the Gilroy resident who owns the new store with her husband Duane. “We don’t want this to be a hole in the wall – we want this to be a center for the community that has been without its own bookstore for too long.”

Ever since Monterey Street Books left the corner of Monterey and Fifth streets four years ago, Gilroy’s literature lovers have been forced to travel to Morgan Hill or San Jose to purchase a wide variety of new books.

But now, cover-to-cover, Wize Owl Books will provide 3,000 square feet of prose, photography, coffee and reading areas for Garlic City readers.

“In general, we want this to be a community bookstore with a focus on children and religion,” said Michele Campbell, who moved to Gilroy from Fremont with her husband and two young children four years ago, “but it’s for everyone, and if we don’t have what you want we will order it. We want to put ourselves in a position to compete with anyone.”

And the competition will come.

Although it will have more than a year to establish its nest in west Gilroy, the Wize Owl could be in for a heated turf battle for survival when bookstore Goliath Barnes and Noble comes to the new Gilroy Crossing Center just east of U.S. 101 and Highway 152 in early 2004.

But being the book enthusiast and avid reader she is, Michele Campbell knows that for every Goliath there is a David and for every hare there is a tortoise..

“To battle Barnes and Noble we will rely on the loyalty of our customers and our commitment to this community,” she said.

Bill Lindsteadt, the director of the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation which helped negotiate an economic incentive package to bring Barnes and Noble and the Gilroy Crossing’s other national chain stores to the city, thinks Wize Owl Books can compete with Barnes and Noble.

Although the independent store might have a hard time competing with Barnes and Noble prices, it will serve a different market for the most part, Lindsteadt said.

“They service two different markets because (Gilroy Crossing Center) is a regional draw and the Wize Owl will be local,” he said. “People from Los Banos who come to Gilroy to go to the new Target in the Regency center will see Barnes and Noble and decide to go in and look around. But if (Wize Owl Books) does a good job of marketing and getting entrenched in the community in their first year, then I think they will get a lot of the local market.”

Michele Campbell agrees with Lindsteadt and said that connecting with the community is her top priority.

Besides, after selling the successful electronics company she and her husband owned in northern Silicon Valley two years ago, she is confident her business sense can keep the Wize Owl hooting for a long time.

“We already have plans to work with the public schools in Gilroy and the churches and provide story hours and cooperative programs,” said Michele Campbell, who will have a staff of three full-time and four part-time employees for her store. “Chains like Barnes and Noble aren’t community oriented.

“We are already working with regional and local authors and publishers to come for readings and to promote their work. We will form a relationship with Gilroy, and I think customer service will become our backbone.”

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