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Blue Door Avoids Closing with New Owner
Barbara R ther -- 2/14/00

Because of health concerns, Tom Stoup, owner of the Blue Door Bookstore, San Diego, Calif., is retiring after 12 years and has sold the store to Patti De Young, a Northern California native who is returning to the state after a long stint as director of the Writers Voice Project and other literary arts programs in Kentucky. She is only the third owner of the Blue Door, which was founded by Bill and Mary Peccolo in 1961. Mary sold it to Stoup, a former schoolteacher, after Bill's death.

The Blue Door is one of the few remaining independent literary bookstores in the San Diego area. A p try enthusiast and avid reader, De Young plans to maintain the store's current mix of titles while enriching areas such as music, art and women's studies. The store will continue to host readings and book signings, especially for literary authors.

"We don't carry all the New York Times bestsellers, but if you're looking for a Nobel laureate from a few years back, then we have it," DeYoung said.

Stoup is teaching DeYoung the details of the business and will leave by the end of the month; one of two current part-time employees will remain.

Stoup, 67, had wanted to sell his store, "but if the right person didn't come along," he said, "I was just going to close the whole thing down."

This is De Young's first endeavor with a bookstore although she has operated other small businesses.

Among the challenges facing her will be negotiating more stable rent costs, since rent on the 2,000-sq.-ft. space in the Hillcrest area doubled three years ago. Inventory needs to be expanded, as stock had been intentionally lightened pending the store's sale. Still, much that customers love remains, including a hand-inscribed p m from Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the death of Allen Ginsberg that hangs on the wall and a sign in the window that reads "Dogs and Coffee Welcome."

Both Stoup and De Young say they feel confident that the store can continue to flourish, in part because it is the only one of its kind in the area. "We've had an overwhelming number of testimonials and appreciations of this store's importance in someone's life," Stoup noted proudly.
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