With this letter we announce that Mrs. Dalloway's is for sale. We have spent the past 17 years establishing and nurturing our bookstore. It has been deeply satisfying for two longtime friends to build a business together and to watch it take off. In 2004, with our own children largely grown, this was our new baby. Many of you may remember the widespread distress felt when Avenue Books went dark. The prospect of our neighborhood without a bookstore was unthinkable, said friends and neighbors. So, with our combined experience in book and magazine publishing, and the support of friends, neighbors and family, we decided to create something entirely new that would reflect the interests of our beloved Elmwood neighborhood where we’d both lived with our families for more than twenty years.
In the time we’ve owned the bookstore we’ve lived through several life phases, as one does in middle age: the deaths of parents, the births of grandchildren, and everything in between. We’ve also lived through several less personal yet greatly affecting events: wildfires, the rise of Amazon, political unrest, a pandemic. Each of these has caused us, together and separately, to take stock of our lives and our roles in the bookstore. We’ve decided it’s time to pass the torch and begin to think about what might be next for each of us. It wasn’t a sudden decision after our difficult Covid year; this is not a fire sale. It’s something we’ve been reflecting on for some time. We're excited for the future of the bookstore under new stewards who will carry their energy and vision beyond what we created.
In 2009, as retail bookstores were having a rough time (not to mention a national recession), our neighbor the Elmwood Pharmacy & Ozzie’s Soda Fountain closed. With a leap of faith we decided to expand, breaking through the common wall and nearly doubling our space. This allowed us to greatly increase the size and scope of our children’s book department, and deepen our history, politics, science, food, and travel sections.
We created a vibrant events program with readings from leading novelists, poets, biographers and garden writers from not only the Bay Area but all over the United States and beyond, about 100 per year. Michael Pollan, Michael Lewis, Michael Chabon, Bernie Sanders, Kamau Bell, Sonia Sotomayor, Louise Gluck, Kay Ryan, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Lamott, Annie Barrows, Jane Smiley, Angie Thomas and so many more have visited Mrs. Dalloway’s or appeared at events we sponsored. We formed strong partnerships with local schools, departments of UC Berkeley, and local nonprofit organizations for offsite sales, fund-raising, and author appearances.
For children we developed a popular monthly subscription service, Little Library, and a Saturday morning storytime, and we advise and service several local book and garden clubs. We carry a range of tasteful sidelines that are literary- or garden- or nature-related. We’re proud to be known as a go-to source for unusual quality gifts.
We are blessed with a knowledgeable, dedicated staff that has been with us for many years and includes three children’s literature specialists in addition to our core stable of fiction fans, politics and history buffs, amateur cooks and gardeners.
You, our loyal customers, have been a major part of the equation in making a successful bookstore. Many of you were friends before; many of you have become friends since. We’ve watched your babies take their first steps here, consoled you when your dogs died, celebrated countless birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and graduations with you. It has been an unequalled pleasure, and we feel lucky and grateful to have taken this journey with you.
We hope to find new owners who will respect what we’ve built and carry on these valuable relationships--inevitably in their own way. If you or someone you know might be interested in buying Mrs. Dalloway’s, please click Buyers Guide below for information on how to submit a proposal. If you’d like to respond to this news, you can write to us at email@example.com. We would like to accomplish the sale by Fall of 2021.
With our gratitude,
Marion Abbott & Ann Leyhe
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