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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, April 27, 2001

Palo Alto Printers Inc. to close Palo Alto Printers Inc. to close (April 27, 2001)

Second store in Mountain View may hang on

by Jaime Bloss

Although a deal has not been sealed with a buyer or investor for Printers Inc., it looks as though Mountain View's favorite downtown bookstore will not close its doors April 30, as its general manager previously planned. Instead, the store will fight to stay open for as long as it can until it can make an agreement with a buyer.

But the news is not so rosy for the Palo Alto store.

Aaron Brown, general manager of the two stores, confirmed the main buyer interested in the Mountain View location is Books Inc., which has locations in Stanford Shopping Center, Burlingame, San Francisco, and Carmel.

"I trust them with this community bookstore," he said. "They're in it for the long run. They make sound business decisions and do very well by the community."

Although Books Inc. is interested in the Mountain View Printers Inc., one of the new obstacles in settling the deal is the price of rent.

"The landlord has been talking about premium rent," Brown said. "It does have a good location, but there's no air conditioning. (The building) hasn't been updated since the 1960s." He added that the building still has its original heater, circa. 1941.

"The landlord is in Britain," Brown said. "He's out of touch. His perception of the market is from six months to a year ago." According to Brown, the landlord would like to charge $3 per square foot.

Books Inc. would be willing to make as much as $500,000 in upgrades, but does not feel that the building is worth the high rent the landlord is seeking, Brown said.

He said that space available near Starbuck's Coffee on Castro Street is less expensive than what his landlord is expecting. "And that's not being rented, either," he said.

While Books Inc. and the landlord are trying to negotiate a deal, Printers Inc. will try to stay open as long as possible.

"If not, it's possible that negotiations will go on. We're looking to buy time," he said. "Even if there's only one person downstairs and three books on the shelf. As long as people come in and buy books."

Books Inc. is not interested in the Palo Alto location because of plans to expand its existing store in the Stanford Shopping Center, Brown said. There are still no leads for the Palo Alto location as of press time.

In the meantime, the company has been buying books with cash from Milligan News and Books, a small, independent company out of Santa Clara. "Two times a week we pick up a truckload of books," he said. "It's not the quantity we had before, but we have new books and new product. They're very willing to work with us."

No matter what the fate of the store, Brown is appreciative of the customers. "I'm amazed and thankful at the support the community has shown by buying what we have, even though it's not what they came in for." <@$p>


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