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Wednesday, November 21 , 2018, 7:39 am | Mostly Cloudy 55º


Granada Books in Santa Barbara Publicizes Its Financial Plight to Avoid Final Chapter

The State Street store starts a crowd-funding campaign in a last-ditch effort to stay in business less than two years after opening

Granada Books employee Christopher Soriano, a UCSB student, walks a customer around the store in search of a book. The bookstore on State Street in Santa Barbara is asking for the community’s help to keep its doors open.
Granada Books employee Christopher Soriano, a UCSB student, walks a customer around the store in search of a book. The bookstore on State Street in Santa Barbara is asking for the community’s help to keep its doors open. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Not 48 hours earlier, Granada Books co-owner Sharon Hoshida was in much worse spirits.

Her community bookstore at 1224 State St. in Santa Barbara lost its main local funder, a financial cushion the independent operation had relied on since opening in June 2013.

At 20 months in, survival seemed bleak.

She brought those concerns to a staff meeting, where some of her 10 employees suggested Granada Books launch an online crowd-funding campaign to save the store.

“We decided we didn’t have anything to lose,” Hoshida said. “It’s been a little bit of a roller-coaster the last few days. Can a large group of people make a small donation to carry us through? I feel very optimistic.”

That optimism is rooted in reality. In less than two days, donors have pledged more than $5,200.

Granada Books is trying to raise $50,000 in two weeks to keep the business going at least through the end of summer, when a more sustainable model could be put in place.

If they fall short, Hoshida said, she’ll know by the end of March whether closure looms.

As a community bookstore funded through sales and an accompanying nonprofit, Pomegranate Arts, Hoshida and co-owner Emmett McDonough thought they had to let locals know they were in trouble.

A sign in front of Granada Books on State Street in Santa Barbara explains the community bookstore's plight and asks patrons to contribute to keeping it open. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Granada Books regularly hosts a variety of community events and donates books or a portion of its profits to local nonprofits or schools.

Sitting among brightly colored shelves filled with 25,000 mainly new (and some locally authored) titles on Wednesday, Hoshida thought back to how the struggle started — beyond the fact that Granada Books opened after the rise of online bookselling and following closures of larger Barnes & Nobles and Borders stores.

In the first six months, sales at Granada Books steadily grew, peaking in the holiday season. Staff changes in early 2014 set the business back, but sales were on the upswing when the store’s largest unnamed donor was forced to scale back contributions.

Dealing with sometimes-maddening book distributors and publishers hasn’t been easy in a business Hoshida calls “tricky.” She’s a retired director of UCSB’s Women’s Center and McDonough is a former CEO.

Business suggestions are welcome, she said, noting that supporters have recommended turning the business into employee-owned or a co-op. Cutting back and restructuring were already on her to-do list.

“It’s been a wonderful adventure,” Hoshida said. “It is the community we love. People have large hearts and they want to try to help. The staff is so dedicated.”

One of those employees is Christopher Soriano, who is in his last year at UCSB and visited Granada Books so often he was offered a job last summer.

“I just love my job,” he said. “How many people can say that?”

Hoshida hopes loyal patrons donate whatever they can, no matter how small. Click here for a link to the GoFundMe page.

“The most direct way would be to come in and buy a book,” she said. “We’re going to make a last-ditch effort to save it. Can you help us?”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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