After a months long search for new owners for their beloved Bay Area bookstore, Kate Levinson and Steve Costa announced that they have selected two experienced San Francisco booksellers to take over the store.
Out of 27 serious letters of interest that Levinson and Costa received, they chose Stephen Sparks and Molly Parent. “They represent the next generation of creative and energetic booksellers, and we couldn’t be happier to have such capable and likeable stewards for Point Reyes Books,” said Costa and Levinson in announcing their decision.
“We've always dreamed of having our own store and when the possibility of buying a charming bookstore in one of the most beautiful places on the California coast, just an hour north of San Francisco, came up, we jumped for it,” said Sparks.
The pair, who are planning a November wedding, will take over Point Reyes in January 2017.
Sparks, who has been a book buyer and manager at Green Apple Books since 2007, will stay on at Green Apple through the fall. He will take on a similar role at PRB, where he will run the store on a day-to-day basis and do the buying, as well as the book events. Parent, who met Sparks when she was working at Green Apple, will continue to work at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing center founded by educator Nínive Calegari and author Dave Eggers, into the foreseeable future. She’ll handle communications for PRB and will spend time at the bookstore on weekends and during events.
When they do take the helm, Sparks and Parent are planning very few changes. “One of the great things about PRB is that it’s already a successful and beloved bookstore,” said Sparks. He will continue to stock new and used books, primarily in literary fiction, poetry, cookbooks, natural history, and children’s. But he will expand the inventory with a broader selection of small and independently published books.
Parents and Sparks are also planning to extend store hours and add a few new programs, including a subscription club and delivery service. “Otherwise,” said Sparks, “[we] will continue to do what Kate and Steve did so well: maintain a strong event series, work with the local community, and provide friendly service.”
One change that they will make is to operate the store as a Benefit Corporation (or B Corp), a for-profit company that demonstrates its commitment to sustainability, transparency, and responsibility to social and environmental causes. PRB will be the second bookstore in the country after Curious Iguana in Frederick, Md., to organize this way. It is more common in larger companies like Patagonia.
As they get ready for the transition, Sparks and Parent have launched an Indigogo campaign to raise $30,000 to revamp the inventory and store systems. This will supplement the money that they have already received from investors. Sparks and Parent credit Levinson and Costa with helping them make connections with potential investors and facilitating conversations to enable them to purchase the store.