Forced out by rent hikes, the Midnight Special bookstore closed its 5,000-square-foot location on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica on February 24. The store plans to move although it has no new location yet. The site is one of the most expensive commercial retail areas in Southern California. Moreover, bookstore competition is fierce: along the promenade are a 42,000-sqare-foot Barnes & Noble and a 30,000-sqare-foot Borders.

"We do not as yet have a new place, but we have made offers to several building owners and are hopeful," owner Margie Ghiz said in an e-mail. "Wherever we move, our rent could at least double, and our expenses, at least initially, will be substantial."

Ghiz has asked for help and requests that the 4,000 customers who signed up for information go to the store's Web site ( and fill out a survey about what they would be able to do to assist in the move.

With the threat of a war with Iraq, Ghiz wrote, keeping the doors of the politically left store open feels more important than ever before. She stated, "Though I have 'lived' this bookstore for 22 years and knew I would do anything to see it survive, I am now beginning to understand why. Today our government threatens war and murder on much of the world; it ignores our needs at home; all the while, 'our' media is silent, or worse: it lies and distorts and supports our government's inhuman policies."

She added, "The Midnight Special not only will survive this move, we will become stronger. The future demands it!"