It’s a case of “go big or go home,” says bookstore owner Luan Stauss, explaining her decision to quadruple the size of Laurel Book Store in the Laurel district neighborhood of Oakland, Calif., from 900 to 3,900 sq. ft. and relocate to downtown Oakland in early October. “It’s a little odd to say it. But business is not great, which is why we’re moving. It’s not that I’m not surviving, I’m not thriving,” she adds.
Stauss, whose store turns 13 next month, made the decision to relocate to a larger space a year ago when her current lease runs out. She is planning for the bookstore she always wanted: one that will continue to have a strong children’s section and be large enough to include more travel, business, and art books. It will also have a dedicated events space that can seat at least 50. In the new downtown location, Stauss, who majored in art, plans to decorate the walls with revolving art installations and carry art supplies as part of the store’s sidelines.
Although Stauss has already been approved for a Small Business Administration loan and has put aside money for capital expenses, on Monday (Aug. 25) she launched a month-long Indiegogo campaign. In the first half day, she raised nearly one tenth of her $50,000 goal and is optimistic about getting more money to help with moving expenses, readying the space, and adding more inventory and fixtures, as well as an updated point-of-sale system.
Although Stauss is looking forward to the new space, which is near public transportation, and in a downtown area that is coming back, she realizes that it might not be easy for some of her customers to get there. So she is in the process of making arrangements for those in her current neighborhood to be able to buy books and pick them up at a local cafe.
Down the road, if the downtown store is successful, Stauss is already considering opening a satellite store. “I think every neighborhood should have a bookstore, which is why I opened one in Laurel,” she says.
As for downtown Oakland, Laurel Book Store will be the first new general bookstore to move into the area since Barnes & Noble closed in Jack London Square in late 2010.