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Bookshop Benicia to leave Southampton Shopping Center

Book store to open on First Street.

owner Christine Mayall, confirmed that her store is moving to 636 First Street. “We just signed our lease,” Mayall said Tuesday. 

“We probably won't get in there until early August” Mayall said. “It depends on how quickly we can do things, but (the Southampton) store is going to keep going gangbusters until that actual day.” 

Mayall cited a number of reasons for the move, the primary one being that her lease is scheduled to expire. “I opted not to renew,” the store owner said. “I think that four (businesses) in a row opting to leave says enough, you don't need to say anymore.”

The exit of Bookshop Benicia will create a row of four vacant storefronts in Southampton Shopping Center.

Mayall said that her first inclination was to allow the lease to expire and close the store. “The amount of rent we had to pay up here has hurt us so badly that we were ready to close the doors,” Mayall said. 

“But then I kind of got excited about moving." 

“I realized I really love what I'm doing, I love having a book store, I love all the people who come in here...I've always wanted to try downtown so it was a great opportunity," Mayall said.  

Mayall, who has owned Bookshop Benicia since 1993, said the the business has endured a lot of changes, including changes in the economy, changes in retail and changes in the book-world and how books are purchased. 

“But,” she said, “we find there's a lot of people out there that still like shopping at bookstores, and we want to offer them a home.

Vickig July 11, 2012 at 01:22 PM
NO - I love that they are moving downtown!
Gaia Renee Vacek July 11, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I believe this move is wonderful. I always wondered why they were not on First Street.
Joe Feltcher July 11, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Good for them. The Southampton Center is going downhill fast and this business is perfect for 1st street. Congratulations and best of luck!
Barbara Ungersma July 11, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Yay! As an east-side resident, I'm thrilled!
Lisa Reynolds July 11, 2012 at 03:53 PM
This is so wonderful for Benicia, First Street and Benicians! Love Bookshop Benicia. First Street, and actually having a downtown, (and a charming one) is wonderful asset that so many Bay Area towns don't have but is still often overlooked here. First Street merchants have suffered mightily since the financial meltdown. SHOP LOCAL and support support support First Street.
Nancy Cheung-Ryfa July 11, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I'm happy for their move. Good news for them.
Billy July 11, 2012 at 04:52 PM
What did anyone think would happen when they opened a Check-Into-Cash, a cigarette store, and a Goodwill store?
Dana July 11, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Billy - I couldn't agree with you more!
rob pearson July 11, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Excellent Move Choice It appears that all we will have left is a Starbucks on one end and Raley's on the other.
Joe Feltcher July 11, 2012 at 08:14 PM
@Billy- Don't forget the massage parlor.
Karen LaRiviere July 12, 2012 at 01:22 AM
What is going on at the Southampton Plaza? The meeting that was held with tenants and the City did not sound like things are going well there at all. We have lost some fabulous tenants there but at least they have been able to move downtown and are all still viable. But when rents on First Street are more attractive than a shopping center someone needs to start asking some questions. It was so convenient to go to ABC Music, Bookshop Benicia, and the other stores that used to be there at the same time as Raley's. I still miss Payless Shoes! When Harpin's moves in September, then that whole row will be vacant. Please don't make this shopping center look like the Raley's center in Vallejo. We need quality tenants to replace the high quality tenants that are leaving and not more check cashing, cigarette and massage places.
upptick July 12, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Southhampton shopping center is a strip mall that is becoming ghetto-ized. At least that's where there's been several robberies lately to include shots fired in the parking lot. In other words, the black urban subculture is creeping into Benicia.
Robert Livesay July 12, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Karen it is very simjple. Raley's holds the pocket aces. Followed by the Econ Dev of Benicia. Those are the folks that should be stepping in and correcting this issue. If Raley's takes a hike it is all over. They do hold the power. All this other talk is just what it is talk and no results. Very routine for Benicia. Complain and nothing happens. Put the pressure on the owner and have Raley's do some strong talking.; You might just see some action. Ask Raley's and the Econ Dev folks what they have done or are doing. They must be held accountable. Enough with the complaining lets see some action. It is not what you want so take action at a c ouncil meeting and tell the Mayor what you expect. You ill get no results from her.
Stephanie July 12, 2012 at 03:04 AM
I have been fortunate enough to work at Bookshop Benicia for nearly 9 years now and I am VERY excited about the upcoming changes! We're hoping that we can retain our current customers at our new location and are also looking forward to seeing some new faces as well! It feels like we, as a town, are making history by keeping an independent bookstore in business for this long (approx. 20 years!!!) and I am over the moon about moving downtown! Thank you, everyone, for supporting us! We truly, deeply appreciate it!
Stephanie July 12, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Robberies have been a problem for many, many years in that shopping center. I managed the Papa Murphy's that was there for a while and there were just as many issues then as there are now. It's easy access on and off the freeway, so it's targeted often.
Marilyn July 12, 2012 at 08:27 AM
I'm so glad the book store isn't closing. It's a really nice store with great things in it. I'll be sure to find you on first street, so will my daughter in law. Marilyn
Billy July 12, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Stephanie, having lived in Benicia for about 30 years I can tell you that for the most part, the problems started when Wells Fargo moved in. Prior to that, the undesirables rarely wandered past the laundromat.
Steve McKee July 12, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Even if you browse online for a book, you then go and order it from Bookshop Benicia. That's how I've been doing it. That's what will keep us all living in a town that has an actual bookstore in it. Many many cities don't have that.
Katherine J. Ellis July 12, 2012 at 10:35 PM
As the Mom of long time employee, Stephanie, I am thrilled to see the bookshop not only stay open, but hopefully thrive downtown. I look forward to them being there and being well supported. The foot traffic alone will be a good draw, not to mention the support of long time loyal customers. Hooray for Bookshop Benicia.
Diane Reeve July 12, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I am new to Benicia, I enjoy going to Bookshop Benicia, then to the pet store and then to Ace and Raley's. I am sad to see the changes going on at the Southampton Center because it is very convenient with lots of parking. I am so happy the Bookshop Benicia is not closing but I am sorry they have to move
Roger Straw July 13, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Clearly, residents and the City need a vibrant downtown AND a healthy Southampton shopping center. In a Benicia Herald report on May 10, 2012, city staffer Mario Giuliani is attributed to have said that city staff would notify the Southampton Shopping Center owner, Weingarten Realty, of Houston, Texas, of the many complaints and concerns expressed by tenants in a May 9 meeting. “'This is the first opportunity for the city to reach out,' he said. 'We’ll follow up with this. We’ll look, with staff, to address what we can and share your concerns.'” Has this been done? Perhaps Mr. Giuliani has reported back to the Economic Development Board. Anyone know what, if any, response the City received from Weingarten? Any promises made? Any action? I will write to Mario to find out, and post anything I find out here. I hope I'm wrong, but it looks like Weingarten Realty might join with the Seenos as outside owners of commercial properties worth watching very closely.
Robert Livesay July 13, 2012 at 06:15 PM
In about two weeks the Weingartewn reps from Citrus Heights will be in Benicia to meet with Mario and staff. I have been on this for a while now. If you need any further info just ask.
Roger Straw July 13, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I heard back from Mr. Giuliani. He spoke with Weingarten representatives on 7/12/12. He is in the process of scheduling a meeting (tentatively schedule for the last week in July, still working on the exact date). Following that meeting he will provide an update to the Economic Development Board.
Elaine July 13, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I'm just so glad to hear that we are not losing them! Thank you for keeping your doors open, even if you have to move to 1st Street to do so. Too bad about the direction the shopping center is going in!
Robert Livesay July 13, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Couple hours late Rev. Straw
Roger Straw July 14, 2012 at 01:25 AM
It's good for readers to hear from Mr. Giuliani here. So I posted news above of his timely response to my inquiry. I included a few new facts - that he'd spoken with Weingarten yesterday, that the dates for a meeting are still tentative, that he will report to the EDB after the meeting. How about if we agree to let this be about Benicia and the shopping center, not about ourselves? Seems like we might all pull together on this one!
Robert Livesay July 14, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Rev Straw you are right. How about giving someone else credit for maybe being on top of this also. I do know what goes on this city. Much more than you might think Rev Straw. Is it not about time to let others know that maybe I do now what I am talking about. Can you do that Rev Straw?
D July 16, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I am soooo happy that Bookshop Benicia is staying in business. Christine, Stephanie, and the others have worked hard to make it the great little independent bookstore that it is. The atmosphere is pleasant and friendly. If they don't have it, they'll order it and get it within a couple of days. The only downside I see in the move is the lack of parking on 1st St. It would be nice if the Mayor & company would do something to fix that ongoing issue that has been a problem from YEARS!
Stan Houston July 16, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Roger or anyone wanting history, facts, and other info regarding the Southampton Center and Weingarten - call me. 746-7565

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