Melissa Richmond finds herself in the intersection of a Venn Diagram of San Francisco real estate stories. Since she's not a wealthy techie, or all that wealthy period, or apt to disrupt much of anything, this portends badly.
Richmond, the proprietor of Bibliohead Books at (for now) 334 Gough, runs a quirky, independent business of the sort eviscerated daily by chains, the internet, and internet chains. Her store, a mere 650 square feet, is piled high with a jaw-dropping array of books — some 25,000 by her reckoning. It's warm in here, Billy Bragg is on the soundsystem, and it smells, reassuringly, of gently aging paper and paste.
A used bookshop offering items for as little as a dollar stands out in Hayes Valley; but then, everything that's not a restaurant or a boutique stands out here. One of the above may soon grace this spot: In the final San Francisco cliché, Richmond's landlord of 10 years wants to double her rent, to $5,200 a month.
You'd have to move a lot of dog-eared copies of Rabbit, Run to make that.
In a departure from a simplistic story line, however, the rent hike is due in large part to the building's forthcoming retrofit. (The books here are often stacked up to 10 feet high — but that won't brace the structure during a quake.)
This week, Richmond has some difficult decisions to make. She may vacate the premises by August. Or she may do so on Dec. 31 — which would require packing up her shop in the heart of Christmas season. Returning to the site would mandate closing shop until at least May during construction. That's a death knell for a small bookshop. But relocating figures to be exorbitant, too.
Finally, it wouldn't be a treasured but imperiled San Francisco business story if an indiegogo account wasn't involved (igg.me/at/bibliohead).