The saga of BookSmart in Morgan Hill continues, and that’s a good thing for the independent book store’s owners. Due to financial difficulties ranging from the compilation of bad debt, coupled with high rent and the costs associated with moving from their longtime spot in downtown Morgan Hill, BookSmart will again relocate. This time the store is moving from its current location on East Dunne Avenue to a smaller space at 421 Vineyard Center Center near the Nob Hill supermarket on Jan. 1, 2019.
For the past 23 years, BookSmart has served as more than a bookstore—it’s also a place for the community to meet, relax and learn. Things changed in 2016, shortly after BookSmart had to move from its longtime home on Second Street as downtown Morgan Hill morphed into a restaurant and entertainment hub.
Owners Brad Jones and Cinda Meister proceeded to 1295 E. Dunne Avenue. The expense of the move, including renovations to the storefront, in addition to higher rent, forced Jones and Meister ring up about $250,000 in debt.
“Many people in the community have generously contributed their time and money in an attempt to help, but in spite of these efforts, none of the avenues we pursued worked out,” read a statement in a letter released by BookSmart.
With the move to Vineyard Town Center on the south end of town, BookSmart will also modify its business model given that the new space is 75 percent smaller than the current location. BookSmart will eliminate the cafe, significantly curtail its toy section, and staff will be reduced to a couple of part-time workers.
“When you step through the doors of our new store, BookSmart will have the look, the feel and the ambiance that you expect from every bookstore you have ever visited,” read BookSmart’s statement. “But this space is small, roughly one-quarter the size of our current location, therefore, it will be 90 percent bookstore. With fewer distractions, we can focus on the very best qualities that a bookstore can possess: books, the book-reading experience, and on you, the customer.”
Still, defying the online giant that is Amazon, along with large chains like Barnes and Noble, BookSmart fights on and hopes to remain competitive through convenience, a wide selection of books and customer service. BookSmart plans to offer a larger children’s section, daily 20 percent discounts on indie next bestsellers, speedy special orders, event space and educator discounts, the store’s owners said.