Two years after Borders and Barnes & Noble closed in downtown Santa Barbara, a new bookstore is poised to open June 20.
Owners of the independent Granada Books opened its door for tours Thursday (no best sellers or even shelves yet) at 1224 State Street, a few doors from the Granada Theatre.
“I’m doing it out of love for the community I love and for the arts of Santa Barbara,” cofounder and financial backer Emmett McDonough told The Santa Barbara Independent. Cofounder is community activist Sharon Hoshida, former director of the UCSB Women’s Center.
McDonough, a retired corporate executive who moved here from San Juan Capistrano, confessed that he had absolutely no previous retail experience and had to take a one-week course in Florida to learn how to run a bookstore. “We didn’t know anything.”
Managing partner Mark Zolezzi, however, brings 15 years’ experience in the book industry. They plan a wide-ranging selection of new books, an extensive children’s section, scholarly books that support area schools and colleges, and a focus on local writers.
Getting lots of comment Thursday among those who flocked there for tours were plans for the outdoor Pomegranate Courtyard in back, featuring literary events, acoustical instrumental concerts, singing, dance, and film screenings.
Since the closure of the two chain bookstores, the longtime downtown used book mecca, The Book Den on the first block of East Anapamu Street, has expanded its new book selection, which now makes up about half its sales, according to owner Eric Kelley, who dropped by Thursday to welcome the Granada Books owners. The new store has no affiliation with the Granada Theatre.
Those who gathered at the Marquee cocktail lounge to hear the announcement of the June 20 grand opening talked about how that block of downtown State Street would see a welcome shot in the arm from the expected hustle and bustle when Granada Books opens.