Printers Inc. owners still looking for partner

Publication Date: Wednesday Feb 3, 1999

BUSINESS: Printers Inc. owners still looking for partner

Meanwhile, property owners negotiate a lease with prospective tenant

Time may be running out for the popular Printers Inc. bookstore. While people are working to find a financial partner for the Palo Alto business, the property owner is in discussions with a prospective tenant.

If a lease is signed with a new tenant, it's all over for the bookstore, at least at its California Avenue location.

"We have an interested party who is doing a final investigation," said Rick Stultz, who represents a group of investors who own the property. "It may be something that turns into a lease, and it may not. We have agreed to general terms, but we don't have anything in writing."

Bookstore co-owners Gerry Masteller and Susan MacDonald said in December that they planned to close their Palo Alto store at the end of March and consolidate operations at their Mountain View store, a decision made in part because of high Palo Alto rents.

The pending demise of the 20-year-old store is a blow for its customers and has led to a flurry of discussions, as people have looked for ways to keep the store open.

"There are a lot of people exploring options, but it's getting late," said Felix Kramer, owner of a Cambridge Avenue Internet business who is one of the people trying to keep the store open. "At the moment, we need a benefactor or an investor."

Masteller said in December that the store needed an investor and an infusion of cash to upgrade its operations to stay competitive with other stores and to try to beat off online bookseller competition.

The upside to all the publicity about Printers Inc.'s plight was a very good holiday season.

"We want to thank the community for their outpouring of concern and to hear how important we are to them," Masteller said.

"We also want to thank the community for supporting us through the holiday season with their dollars," he added. "It showed that community support of a business can make a big difference in terms of its survival."

--Don Kazak

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