Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Stacey's Bookstore... in memoriam


Stacey's Bookstore, a fixture in San Francisco for 85 years, announced to the staff today that the store will be closing for good in March of this year.

To any and all who worked there, or in any of the branch stores already gone, and to the thousands who shopped there over the decades, the loss will be immeasurable.  Stacey's was everything an independent bookstore was meant to be; welcoming, diverse, eclectic, and fiercely, defiantly a bookstore first, last and always.  It was not a toyshop, a coffee bar, or a corporate merchandising environment.  It was not a publicly traded business model, or an Internet investment opportunity.  It was not a retailer of products, some of which happened to be books.  It was not a bland, homogenized mall operation, selling a narrow selection of safe bestsellers, in a cozily overstuffed cultural void, with every available corner crammed with cheap reprints, sidelines and logo bespattered promotions. It was not, in short, the kind of bookstore the city of San Francisco, at the behest of developers, and with the tacit support of City Hall, invited into its new cultural centers and onto every other corner of Market Street. 
What Stacey's was was an Independent Bookstore; stocked, staffed and operated by Independent Booksellers whose knowledge, commitment and heart created one of the finest bookstores on the West Coast.  

Mr. John W. Stacey started the company in 1923.  The full history of Stacey's in San Francisco is one of constant reinvention, expansion and service.   And always, from the beginning, it was about providing books to readers.

There is no way for me to express my personal sense of loss on hearing the news that Stacey's is closing.  It was my home for twelve years.  I learned how to sell books there.  I learned what it meant to be a valued and respected member of a bookselling family there.  I made many friends there, among customers and staff.  Stacey's, for me, will always be my standard of what a bookstore can and ought to be.

I can not believe it will be gone by March.

7 comments:

  1. This breaks my heart.

    :(

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  2. I worked at Stacey's from 1981 to 1984. Though not all my memories of it are happy ones, I still have friends who work there (well, at least until March), and I, too, learned the rudiments of bookselling at 581 Market. I spent the next 24 years in the trade until my last store closed (for all the usual reasons) in June 2008, so I know a bit about what the Stacey's crew are going through at the moment. Their lease was up at the end of 2011, I believe, but I don't think they thought the end would arrive quite so soon.

    It breaks my heart to see the industry that employed me for almost 30 years whither away.

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  3. Thank you both for your comments. A former coworker who still lives in Sf recently went in to Stacey's at my request to wish the place well. He bought their last copy of Henry James' The Golden Bowl, my favorite book. Bless 'im.

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  4. Dorothy4:50 PM

    I retired from Stacey's in October of 2007 after 26 years, most of them on the floor as a bookseller. I still consider it my home away from home and will miss both staff and customers. No other bookstore compares.

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  5. A save Stacey's facebook group was started in december when the founder heard the store would probably close in 2011. Membership has grown since news broke it would be closing it March

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=40921043845

    They are having a second meeting today

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  6. I worked at the Stacey's Bookstore in Richmond, CA, at the Hilltop Mall. I was 17 and it was my first job. I was bit with the book bug and have been intoxicated with literature ever since. ahhhhhhhhhhh....

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  7. Years after this appeared, I happened to catch up with it, and might as well set down for history that I was another bookseller with both UBS and Stacey's in my life. I was Manager of the Trade Book Department at UBS from 1969 to 1977, and then Merchandise Manager for Stacey's from 1984 to 1987 -- actually, somewhat longer, as buying for Stacey's was done from the J. K. Gill office in Portland from 1981 to 1984. I have lovely memories of both stores.

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