Less than two years after opening to much fanfare and expectation, Granada Books in downtown Santa Barbara finds itself in serious financial straits. The State Street store is asking for $50,000 in public donations to keep it afloat through the end of the year. If it doesn’t meet its goal by March 30, Granada Books will close next month.
“We’re feeling a little shell-shocked at the moment,” said co-owner Sharon Hoshida. “But I think we have a good chance of pulling it off. I think there are enough people out there who care.” Hoshida launched a GoFundMe.com webpage last week to collect donations. As of Monday morning, she’d raised $14,035 from 128 different people.
Hoshida, a former director of the UCSB Women’s Center, and her partner, Emmett McDonough, a retired corporate executive and Granada Books’ financial backer, knew they had their work cut out for them when they opened in summer 2013. Big bookstores all over the country were shuttering left and right, but that year, more independent bookstores had opened than closed since 2008.
Hoshida said she and McDonough banked on interest from the city’s “highly educated population,” their marketing strategies to “target baby boomers,” a “resurgence in the classics,” and a “flourishing young adult market.” They also hosted a number of events and signings to keep foot traffic flowing.
The pair knew the store likely wouldn’t turn much of profit for at least two or three years, Hoshida explained, but they had some significant financial troubles early on “that was the result of bad management.” That put them deep in the red, and it’s been a considerable uphill battle since.
Nevertheless, Hoshida said Granada Books has recently been doing better than ever and is just starting to turn the corner. “So it would be a shame to have to close now,” she lamented. And if the $50,000 comes through to temporarily cover overhead, Hoshida said she has high hopes for the future of Granada Books. “If we have until the end of calendar year, we have a very strong chance of making it on our own.”