TRUCKEE, Calif. — The story of the Truckee Bookshelf is nearing its final chapter if it doesn’t see an increase in sales.
“If the community isn’t willing to support us, we’re done, unfortunately,” said Debbie Lane, owner of the 21-year-old local business.
Since moving to its current location at the Westgate Shopping Center earlier this year, the bookstore has seen sales drop between 25 percent to 30 percent, Lane said.
“We’ve been down so much,” Lane said. “We just need people to get in the store and shop.”
Krista Strecker’s 10th-grade English class at Truckee High School is helping that effort. As part of a class assignment, students are hosting a community rally on Saturday, Nov. 23, to encourage people to buy a book.
In conjunction, the class is also raising funds for the Bookshelf, with a $1,000 goal, according to its campaign website. As of Tuesday morning, $135 had been raised.
“These kids are pretty amazing,” Lane said. “They’re on it. They are right behind us.”
One of those students is Joscelyne Jauregui, who uses the bookstore between two and three times a month.
“It’s the only bookstore left (here),” she said. “Losing it would affect our education if we needed books.”
Situated along Donner Pass Road near several schools, the store provides convenient access to books at a time when education officials are working to improve third-grade reading skills as part of Tahoe/Truckee being named an All-America City in 2012.
“We know we can go get our resources just right there, right down the road,” said Erik Swalander, another Truckee High student involved the campaign to save the Bookshelf.
The bookstore is also launching its own campaign, with the goal of raising $30,000 between now and Jan. 16, 2014.
“We’re asking people to help in a way which is appropriate for them,” Lane said, whether that’s donating, buying a book from the store or spreading the word.
On Saturday morning, part-time Truckee resident Sara Giordani and her three children were searching the literature-lined shelves of the children’s section, picking out several books to purchase.
“These guys (the children) come in ... and they just pick out different books they maybe wouldn’t have picked out if buying it online,” she said. “It allows them to see all the different colors and shapes. It’s the hands-on search of what book they want to read. To me that’s huge.”
Giordani touched on another factor contributing to the Bookshelf’s woes: online-based retailers.
“They forget when they press that ‘buy’ button, all that money, whatever it is that they’re spending, goes right out of their community,” Lane said. “It does nothing to support staffing and people who have jobs here.”
With a staff of five — not including Lane — the Bookshelf can provide individual assistance unlike online retailers, Strecker said.
“It can be a place ... for adults to find a non-threatening source of information about what they should read next without having to dive into the wormhole of Amazon (and) ultimately ending up with a book that is far from what he or she was looking for in the first place — a product of a over-generalization of mass marketing about what someone their age ‘should like,’” she said. “Nonsense. (The) Bookshelf is a place that is like a custom tailored suit — it is irreplaceable because it is exactly fitted to an individual need with precision, expertise and grace.”
Yet if sales don’t pick up, the store will meet the same fate as the Tahoe City Bookshelf, which closed in March 2012.
“Down the road, we hope we have a future,” Lane said.
“If the community isn’t willing to support us, we’re done, unfortunately.”
Owner, Bookshelf Stores Inc.