It was the dawn of 2001. I remember it well. I'd realized and decided that my neighborhood needed a book store. I had to go elsewhere to get a book that wasn't on the romance rack of the supermarket or drugstore, and I didn't like it. I wasn't being productive in my job. I worked feverishly on a plan. I had a great support team that gave me great advice. It was going to be great. Lots of subject sections to reflect the diversity that is our city, and the Laurel in particular as one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Oakland, itself one of the most diverse cities in the country. Children's books! Oh yes, books for the kids who were growing up in those little houses all over the place! And home improvement and gardening books for all my industrious neighbors. Fiction to keep everyone entertained and educated. Current events and history because we were so hungry for knowledge, biographies that introduced us to amazing people. Mysteries, art, spirituality and sports. And whatever else my readers wanted. We'd get it!
After a few stumbles, it was all set. The walls were painted, the carpet was in, we'd built shelves and a front desk. The computers were connecting, the books were being categorized. Opening day was set for September 15, a Saturday. So exciting! The news on that Tuesday morning was grim. We didn't call it 9/11 then, but it was. My neighbor's family as on the east coast with no way to get home soon. She came to the store and helped further create it that day, something I think we're both grateful for. Many good friends helped launch Laurel Book Store, both physically and emotionally. Building shelves, giving advice, simply encouraging me. Like any good business, it has been a community effort from the beginning.
A good many titles that we carry or become passionate about are suggested by our customers. When you're here, you're part of the store family. We host readings, workshops, fundraisers, and sometimes just a happy hour to sit and chat for a while. We love to talk about books, want to hear what you like and don't like, and want to be your go-to source for books. If you need us to hunt down a book from your childhood, we'll do it. I like the idea that we're creating childhood memories for future, as well as current, adults.
And now, in October of 2014 we have moved to a new location in downtown Oakland. The new store is four times the size of the original store, has a children's room, an event space, and plenty of room for us to expand. We even have a breakroom for the staff! I am eagerly looking forward to the next thirteen years of serving a whole new community and exploring the incredible downtown Oakland.