For the last five years I’ve been slightly involved with a local secondhand book store called Mockingbird Books. I volunteered there the first two years of my retirement. It was like a dream; getting to work in a bookstore. It was great to reconnect with my writing friend Brandy. I learned a Point of Sale system and discovered I could do retail (not that I’m particularly good at it).
Over the past five years things have changed. Brandy has left the store, and now Mark and Geronimo have announced that they are going to move the Sebastopol store to Tracy, Ca, where they are relocating. They will still own the second Mockingbird location in Guerneville. It is a smaller store and it is thriving. The bigger store has some challenges, mostly around expenses (pricey real estate, pricey rent). Mark and Geronimo have already rented space in Tracy and will be closing the local store this Wednesday.
There is some good news out of this. Tracy is one of those towns/cities with no
independent bookstore, so Mockingbird will be a good addition for them. For people in west Sonoma County, the Guerneville store is accessible and charming, and it’s in the Coffee Bazarre so you can get a nice coffee drink on your way out.
Spouse and I had a standing joke when I was working. When I had a particularly bad day, I’d come home and Spouse would say, “How was your day?” and I would snarl, “I can always get a minimum-wage job in a bookstore!” Well, now I know I can work in a bookstore, at least a used bookstore. I loved being around books, discovering new writers and poets, browsing beautiful coffee-table books I’d never buy but loved to look at. I enjoyed doing table displays. I loved trying to find a book or a writer for someone who wanted to read something new. I even liked cleaning books and shelving, because shelving gave me the illusion of order.
I liked being part of downtown and seeing familiar faces like Michele Anna Jordan, Sarah Glade Gurney and others. The store helped me make a bridge from full-time and more than full-time work to retirement; it helped me leave administrative stuff and get back to direct services. I learned some things about retail and some things about publishing that I think will help me as I continue to try to sell my fiction.
Over the past year my connection with the store had dwindled to where I was helping on their Facebook page and with an occasional blog posting or promotion. Still, seeing the store close is like having a friend move to Australia. I know they’re still around; I know I won’t be seeing as much of them. I wish Mockingbird the best in its new location.