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Fifth Avenue Books bids adieu to Hillcrest

Photo credit:
Sandy Hill

Fifth Avenue Books in Hillcrest announced last month that it was going out of business.

They said in a Facebook post that they are appreciative of all their loyal customers who have supported them over the years, but due to the increase in online shopping the store could no longer sustain the financial loss.

“Despite all of you, and despite the best efforts of everyone who works here, the store has been losing money for the last several years,” owner Robert Schrader wrote.

“We've kept it open for those years, hoping that it was a temporary drought. But the trend is now unmistakable: the traditional brick-and-mortar bookstore simply can't survive in the age of online bookselling.

“So we have to close it.”

The store has been a part of Hillcrest since 1985, catering to the literature needs of the neighborhood. Stocked at one time with over 40,000 used titles, the owner says he simply cannot continue hemorrhaging money at a rate of $1,000 a month.

If you have ever been into 5th Avenue Books you recognize that familiar smell of vintage pages and musk which comforts you while browsing through the many shelves taller than the average person.

To Schrader no book was off limits and just when you were about to ask the cashier about a topic, there it was, handwritten on a small piece of paper above eye-level.

From self-help books to graphic novels, 5th Avenue Books had it all. The knowledge, perhaps slightly outdated, was there for the taking, or the browsing.

In a recent San Diego Union Tribune article, they say brick and mortar bookstores are slightly on the rise; customers are longing for that personal experience and want to shop locally as well as meet authors face-to-face.

Amazon seems to have a pulse on that idea and have opened several stores around the country including one in San Diego.

But the used bookstore concept is a little different than one offering bestsellers or newer releases. Only the seller makes money while the author and the printer are left out of the profits.

And still, even in the slight upswing of sales elsewhere, 5th Avenue Books is closing after 30 years.

Much to his dismay, Schrader is letting employees go, but has started a GoFundMe page so they don’t have to live on unemployment alone.

Anyone who donates to their cause will get a special Thursday preview of price drops before they go live on Friday.

He is also having an extensive sale on everything in the store with deep discounts growing as the end of the month and the shuttering draws nearer.

“Shelves, cases, carts, and other fixtures can be purchased at any time. They can be picked up on Feb 26th or 27th, or maybe earlier if they are no longer needed,” he writes on Facebook.

Friday, Feb 3rd - Thursday, Feb 16th = 50% off all books

Friday, Feb 17th - Monday, Feb 20th = 80% off all books

Tuesday, Feb 21st - Thursday, Feb 23rd = $2 per hardcover / $1 per paperback / 50 cents per pocket paperback.

Friday, Feb 24th and Saturday, Feb 25th = $5 per bag ( standard paper grocery bag, please bring your own if you can )

Sunday, Feb 25th and Monday, Feb 27th = $1 per bag

Sadly, the last thing to be sold will be available on its final day.

“Even the cash register and the 'open' sign will go on the last day,” Schrader writes.