Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Peninsula institution shuts down

From the Mercury News, Aug. 31:

Kepler's abruptly shuts its doors


By the Mercury News

Kepler's, the Menlo Park independent bookstore that drew loyal readers from around the Bay Area for more than 50 years, abruptly closed Wednesday.

The bookstore was a victim of the economic downturn that began four years ago, according to a sign posted on the door. ``As much as we love what we do and would like to continue another 50 years, we simply cannot,'' the sign read.

By noon today, a steady stream of people had wandered over to the building on El Camino Real to read the sign. The reaction was universal: Shock.

``What? What! My soccer magazines! From England!'' said Karan Das-Grande, 10. ``This is the only place I could get them.''

Rita Allison of Menlo Park, who had been buying books at Keplers for more than 30 years, called the store ```a symbol of the community.''

``It's a big jolt,'' she said.

Menlo Park officials had tried to help owner Clark Kepler negotiate a lower rent without success, said city business development manager David Johnson. Johnson said today that Kepler, whose father founded the store, ``invited all his employees in this morning to the location, even those who weren't scheduled to work. They pulled the shades and locked the doors.''

As they left the meeting, employees ``mentioned slow sales and the continuing difficulty competing with discount booksellers,'' Johnson said.

Kepler's celebrated its 50th anniversary in May.

``My dad had a vision of what a bookseller's role in society was,'' said Kepler in a 2004 interview. Roy Kepler determined that his bookstore would be a community place where readers could find a book on any topic.

Especially in recent years, Kepler's had become known as a place for writers. Lauren Bacall, Bill Cosby, Jane Fonda and Jimmy Carter have read at the store.

But the store suffered with the economy's decline beginning in 2001 and with the rise of chain and online bookstores.

A history, from Kepler's 50th anniversary, celebrated this May

A sad day in Menlo Park

Palo Alto Online story on the closing of Keplers

Keplers and the origin of the Dead

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