Latest Half Price Books News
Feb 12, 2019
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED: February 12, 2019 at 2:03 pm CONCORD — Yet another bookstore in Contra Costa County will bite the dust this spring when bookstore chain Half Price Books will close its downtown Concord store. The store will close in early May, according to a spokeswoman for the bookstore. While bookstores have long faced steep challenges in the competitive era of Amazon, the popular Half Price Books location is not simply a casualty of tough times in retail. “Our landlord informed us that given the level of interest in the property, they decided not to renew Half Price Books in our current location,” said Emily Bruce, Half Price Books’ public relations manager, in an email, adding that the retailer’s development team is actively searching for a new location nearby and currently has six letters of intent out for various spaces but no leases signed yet. “While we hope to move elsewhere in the area, we will close the current Concord store in early May to give us time to move all items and fixtures in the store by the end of the month when our lease ends.” Half Price Books, which started in 1972 in Texas and now has about 120 stores selling and buying new and used books, movies, CDs and vinyl records, opened its Concord location in 2001. News of the closure has disturbed many residents of Concord and nearby cities who saw the store as a fixture of the downtown experience and a refuge for book and music lovers — one of the few bookstores left in the central part of the county after Barnes and Noble and Borders closed their stores in Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill in recent years. A Facebook post by local activist group Concord Communities Alliance about the bookstore closing drew more than 240 comments and was shared almost 1,000 times. Many comments were from local residents lamenting the closure. “It is the only place to ‘shop’ in downtown, and bookstores this size are rare these days,” wrote one person on the Facebook thread, adding that while there are plenty of restaurants, there is not enough retail in the area around Todos Santos Plaza. Others lamented the influx of “generic” new tenants to the area. Half Price Books’ store is part of a city block bounded by Willow Pass Road and Mt. Diablo, Galindo and Salvio streets that is known as the Shops at Todos Santos. Retail development firm Paragon Commercial Group, LLC and San Francisco-based Long Market Property Partners, LLC announced their purchase of the whole block in 2016. The entire 2.15-acre property was 100 percent occupied at the time, according to a news release the firms issued then. New tenants on the property include a recently opened Chipotle, Burgerim (burgers) and a soon-to-open Ramen 101 and Fire Wings. Cinnaholic, a vegan cinnamon roll chain whose initial Berkeley shop has spawned a franchise, will also open nearby. But as those tenants move in, others are leaving. A 25 year-old Thai restaurant, Bangkok Kitchen, is being pushed out of its longtime space on the Galindo St. side of the block, due to what restaurant owner Peter Bumphenboon said was a new lease that would more than double his rent. The new lease offered by the property owners would raise his monthly rent from $5,200 to $11,000 — more than he can afford, he said. Like Half Price Books, he hopes to find a location nearby but has not yet signed any leases. According to the Concord Communities Alliance group, Bank of America will move into the Half Price Books location. Requests for comment made by this news organization to the property owners were not immediately returned. Other Half Price Books locations in the Bay Area include stores Dublin, Fremont and Berkeley.