We’ve been doing it for years
with a little help from our friends…
As we start to think about our 20th anniversary coming up in May 2019, we at Bird & Beckett think it’s appropriate to reproduce this email from the proprietor to the store’s patrons, written eleven years ago and dated June 24, 2008:
“Big Move Coming Up!”
After nine years in its present location on Diamond Street, Bird & Beckett is moving in September (2008) to a new spot in the neighborhood, just around the corner and up the block at 653 Chenery. I’m counting on another twenty years in the book business in Glen Park, and this looks like the best way to secure that idea. Come 2029, maybe I’ll be ready to sell the shop and find a nice spot beneath a cork tree to sniff the flowers and read a book. But first, this…
Bird & Beckett’s new space is the one currently occupied by the library, which is packing up August 31st and moving to new, more spacious digs around the corner on Diamond, above Canyon Market. We’ll trim the trees and reconfigure the entry and facade just a bit, hang a sign and paint the place, move some bookcases around… and then start moving in the books. The new place is supposedly about 50% bigger than our current store, so we’ll flesh out the used book sections, give a little more breathing room to the new books, build in a small stage, and provide for a little lounging room for our patrons.
It’s going to be a solid step forward for the bookstore, which seems to be gaining momentum at a time when so many independent bookstores are gasping for breath or packing it in. We’ve only been able to get this far because of the support of our patrons, and the musicians and poets who give the store so much of its character. We look forward to building on that momentum in the Chenery Street store…
I’m pleased that Bird & Beckett will be inheriting a space deeply infused with the aura of books from its thirty year history as a public library. The building was constructed specifically for the library in the mid-1970s when Wilhelm and Val Tietz decided magnanimously to provide a home for it — after years in which the library shifted around the general vicinity from one inadequate space to another. Wilhelm’s grandfather was a dairy farmer in these parts, and built the cottage next door to our new home a full century earlier, in the 1870s. The cottage is the oldest residential building in Glen Park. Wilhelm & Val’s son Torr lives in the cottage now, and he and his brother Forrest co-own the property (the cottage, the library building and the next building up the street, which houses Glen Park Montessori). Torr and Forrest will be Bird & Beckett’s new landlords. They clearly want to continue their parents’ desire to take the neighborhood’s best interests to heart.
You can get more information on the history of the property and the Tietz family from Bonnee Waldstein’s article in the new issue of the “Glen Park News” — and much more on the whole neighborhood from the new book about to be released, Emma Bland Smith’s San Francisco’s Glen Park and Diamond Heights (Arcadia Publishing). The book is due out July 23rd, and will be presented by Emma at the Glen Park Association Meeting on July 31st and again at the bookstore on Sunday, August 5th at 3:00 p.m.
Much gratitude is due to Manhal Jweinat, the impressario at the grill of Higher Grounds, the crepe/coffee house kittycorner from our current location. Manhal built and owns this building– leasing our space originally to Glen Park Books in late 1994 and then leasing it to Bird & Beckett in 1999. He’s kept the store’s rent low while waiting for the neighborhood to heat up, and he’s given us plenty of time to find new quarters. Now he’s itching to get on with his next project in this space, a comfortable Italian restaurant to augment the coffee house.
And of course much gratitude is due our customers, from the immediate neighborhood and beyond, who have made a conscious effort to buy a substantial portion of their books here so that we might meet the rent and keep the doors open. And to the bookstore’s many volunteers, members, and out-and-out donors. And, of course, to the writers whose words fill the books and to the musicians, poets, and others who read and perform here, making the store a cultural center as well as a business.
Thanks to you all!
Here’s to the next twenty years…
Proprietor, since 1999
Watch for news on the “Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project” — a nonprofit arm of the store that is being created to give some stability to the store’s cultural programming and to relieve some of the burden it places on the store itself. I’m convinced that some underwriting can be obtained to help pay respectable honorariums to the talented people who grace Glen Park’s bookstore venue, and to fund the cost of publicizing, presenting, recording, publishing and archiving their contributions to the region’s living culture. Fifty years from now, when the bookstore is long gone, I want students and scholars to be able to unearth quality recordings of performances and presentations by individuals who are shaping our culture as it goes forward, creating the human basis for all that’s yet to come.
A second footnote:
Yes, we’ll be able to use plenty of help! so give us your phone number and email if you’re keen on volunteering. As it is, Carl Scheidenhelm of SF Architecture, general contractors Bruce Helmberger and Dan Richman, and electrician Chris Eccles are advising me on what is practical and helping me keep costs of any renovations down while shaping a store that will look good and work well for the long term. Nancy Walter, Susan Petro, Julian Gross, Will Segen and Dwight Smith have been helping put the nonprofit together. Cal Broomhead has offered expertise in thinking through energy conservation issues. Stacey Stevenson has offered to help as a project coordinator on the move. Ally Bland will help document it. Dan Tuttle, in memorium, hovers over the project, infusing the enterprise with Thoreau’s grounded spirit of conviction and Melville’s dark brio. And many, many average Joes (if you’ll forgive the cliched characterization which we fully acknowledge masks the, at least, 70% female [and this being Pride weekend it must be acknowledged, often LGBT] nature of our volunteer community) have offered to help with the physical move of the books. The store’s website will continue to detail the help individuals are providing. I thank you all, whether it’s for specific expertise or just an enthusiasm for packing or unpacking books or waving a paint brush around… this will be a great community effort we can all be proud of. Who wants to help coordinate a new membership push and maintenance of the membership program? Who would like to plan the next pancake breakfast? I look forward to hearing from and working with all of you. And I do hope you all will help me make sure the kids have a good time being part of all this. We do it for them, you know…
As Duke always said:
Love you madly,
/s/ Eric. prop.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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