In April, the community was saddened to hear Higuera Street’s Novel Experience would close. Last week, it was announced that San Luis Obispo Borders will soon shutter its doors.
Take heart, independent bookstore supporters! Los Osos and Morro Bay have two full-service bookstores ready to serve.
Coalesce Bookstore and Garden Chapel first opened in 1973.
“Our first store was a house where the Blue Sail Inn is today,” owner Linna Thomas said. “Marjorie Smith owned the property at 845 Main Street. I wanted it and opened in 1982, soon after she built the Garden Chapel, then purchased in 1996. I probably could have done other things with my two degrees, but I love owning a bookstore in Morro Bay. We never wanted to be a big store. We always wanted to be a good bookstore.”
Carroll Leslie and Barbara Strauss relocated from Orange County, where they had a specialty bookstore.
“Books were my escape when I was young in Toronto. I read a book a night after my homework,” Leslie said. “I graduated from Cal Poly Pomona then worked in research until we opened the Laguna Beach store. We hosted exciting authors from all over the world until we sold it. Barbara walked into Volumes of Pleasure in 1992 just when the owners wanted to sell.”
Their bookstore is at 1016 Los Osos Valley Road.
Both agree the value they offer is customer service, longevity in the business and knowledge of their inventory. They love books. They stock new, used and rare out-of-print books.
Unlike the larger stores, they are able to hand-select books, greeting cards and boutique products they know are meaningful for their customers. Both will special order any title and have it in just a few days.
“We’ll deliver books and visit customers who can’t get out,” Leslie said. “Our employees are friendly and work for us because they love books.” Volumes of Pleasure employees are Kristofer Stehli, Christine Ahern, Mona McKelvey and Ellen Perryess.
“We get involved in our communities and our customers’ lives — their weddings and special events,” Thomas said. “Joanne Hand has worked here for 34 years, and now her son Jordan, plus Sherri Hereford and Bev Abbey.”
Both encourage authors to schedule book signings. Coalesce’s Garden Chapel offers space for intimate meetings, meditations, poetry readings, weddings and concerts. For years, it has hosted the SLOFolks concert seasons.
“Books have the power to change lives,” Thomas said. She recognizes today’s digital devices dramatically impact their sales, but probably encourage more youthful reading. Leslie remains tentative, but maintains “a positive attitude book lovers will continue to want books and support independent bookstores.”
Reach Judy Salamacha at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-1422.