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Local News

Granada Books Writing New Chapter for Downtown Literary Scene

Counting on community, independent bookstore set to open June 20 near Granada Theatre

Too many years passed as local literary enthusiasts Emmett McDonough and Sharon Hoshida kept their eyes attentively open, anticipating the rebirth of an independent bookstore in Santa Barbara.

“We kept waiting and waiting for something to happen,” Hoshida told Noozhawk.

Eighteen months of planning later and the local retirees and co-owners are set to see their dream realized on June 20 with the opening of Granada Books at 1224 State St.

The independent bookstore, to be funded through the recently organized nonprofit Pomegranate Arts, is envisioned as eventually showcasing 25,000 mostly new (and many locally authored) titles.

When Granada Books is able to grow to its potential depends solely on how much the community wants a local place where people can buy books and host author readings or community events.

“We have to pay for this one book at a time,” said McDonough, a retired CEO. “Live or die, succeed or fail, on community involvement. People don’t want what happened to record stores to happen to bookstores.”

McDonough and Hoshida, the retired director of UCSB’s Women’s Center, are longtime friends whose children attended school together.

Both have put their money and faith into the bookstore venture, forsaking the idea that online book-buying and the more recent closings of larger Barnes & Nobles and Borders stores could ever negate the need for a small, locally run bookstore.

In an effort to psych up community members for the opening, Granada Books has been hosting weekly tours on Thursday evenings to stoke stakeholder support. Tours are planned both this week and next.

Granada Books co-owner Emmett McDonough describes a proposed patio and plaza area planned for the parking lot behind the community bookstore. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Granada Books co-owner Emmett McDonough describes a proposed patio and plaza area planned for the parking lot behind the community bookstore. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The co-owners and bookstore manager Mark Zolezzi show the public through the space during tours and present store plans, which include construction of a performing arts courtyard by the end of 2014 in the rear parking lot of the space subleased from The Granada Theatre.

“This block is what used to be called the community arts district,” McDonough said. “Here we can do smaller stuff. Bookstores are magnets. It makes the block come alive.”

Empty, recycled bookshelves from the now-closed Santa Barbara Barnes & Noble line the walls of Granada Books, which already has a huge sponsor in the Santa Barbara Foundation.

The co-owners say they are confident Granada Books will be able to sustain itself, especially since bookstore management has already been inundated with requests from local self-published authors.

“People have been so generously helpful,” Hoshida said. “It’s a different kind of retail ... you aren’t competitors.”

McDonough echoed his colleague’s optimism.

“Nobody is against this,” he said. “We will grow the store. It will just take some time. It’s just a tremendous undertaking.

“I’m doing this out of love. We have to sell enough books. I think (we) will.”

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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