Famed San Francisco independent book store facing eviction

June 10, 2013 9:27:32 PM PDT
Bookstores nationwide have had a hard time surviving with the growing popularity of e-books. What's said to be the oldest independently-owned black book store in the country is in danger of eviction. Marcus Books in Lower Pacific Heights is a victim of a bad economy and a bad business decision.

Marcus Books is an icon in San Francisco's black community. The Victorian once housed Jimbo's Bop City, where jazz greats jammed back in the day. When the Fillmore neighborhood was bulldozed to make way for urban renewal, the building was spared.

"We are in the fight of our lives to hold onto just even a bit of our culture and Marcus Books is at the center of that," San Francisco Supervisor London Breed said.

Breed is among those fighting to save Marcus Books. A bad business loan during the bad economy eventually led to bankruptcy proceedings. Now, the new owners have ordered a June 18 eviction. The family that founded Marcus Books in 1960 and lives upstairs, is hoping for a change of heart.

"I think they are kind enough to understand how important it is to the community right now," Karen Johnson said.

A neighborhood health agency, Westside Community Services, is offering to buy back the building from the new owners above their purchase price and then return the space to the bookstore. The attorney for the new owners says, "we are not providing comment on this on-going matter," but customers are talking.

"With the exodus of African-Americans from the city, this is another example of the void," customer Carol Tatum said.

Mayor Ed Lee says he will reach out.

"We'll have to take a look at all the options available; I think they've been a good business and we will make every effort to do so," Lee said.

Marcus Books has hosted thousands of writers over the years, from Maya Angelou to Toni Morrison to Walter Mosley.

Now the family and community hope that through a last-minute miracle they'll have more visits here in the future.


Load Comments