Noe Valley Voice February 1999

Cover to Cover Moves Down the Block

By Suzanne Herel

After 16 years in a cramped storefront on 24th near Sanchez, Cover to Cover Booksellers is moving to a new, larger location -- still in "Downtown" Noe Valley.

Store owner Nicky Salan hopes to be doing business by the end of the month in the sleek, remodeled building next to Launderland, at the corner of Church and 24th streets. The storefront, at 3812 24th St., was occupied for many years by Suzy's Laundry (see June 1998 Voice).

Salan will be enlisting about 100 volunteers for a "bucket brigade," to pass books hand over hand down the street one weekend morning in late February. "We wanted to do something symbolic," she said, that would involve many of the store's loyal patrons.

The new space, more than twice the size of the current 1,100-square-foot shop, will enable the store to stock more books on topics such as computing, business, collecting, and home improvement. "We've never been able to carry as much as we want to carry, in any category except children's books," said Salan. She welcomes suggestions for new books.

The reincarnated Cover to Cover will also have a balcony and garden, which will host an expanded number of store events, including author signings, book clubs, and classes. "We hope the garden will be a relaxing place to read," Salan said.

But Salan wants to put residents' minds at ease about the store morphing into another Barnes & Noble. "We're not going to look like a Barnes & Noble or any of the chains, and we'll still be the only place on the street that won't sell coffee," she said emphatically. There are plans, however, for some cozy overstuffed chairs.

Cover to Cover, the strip's only store specializing in new books in a mix of genres, has enjoyed increasing success over the years, and Salan had been on the lookout for a larger space for quite a while. But, she said, "there are not a lot of big spaces floating around on this street."

So did she consider moving outside the neighborhood?

"Never," she said. "Noe Valley is the best place in the city to sell books. Besides, after 16 years we feel we really know our customers. It's been a match made in heaven."

Salan said she'll probably close the store a few days before the day of the bucket brigade. The store will officially reopen the next Saturday, once the books have been moved. A grand opening celebration should follow about a month later.

Cotton Basics Opens Men's Store

Meanwhile, Cotton Basics, the wom-en's clothing store at the corner of 24th and Castro streets, has launched a men's clothing store in the 24th Street space formerly leased by Bakers of Paris.

Since last fall, the Bakers of Paris space, sandwiched between Herb's Fine Foods and Glad Rags, has sat empty because of a dispute over who could rent it, said Bob Roddick, head of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association. In November, after several months of lobbying, the neighborhood's two main residents groups -- the East & West of Castro Club and Friends of Noe Valley-- convinced the city to reject a bid by Extreme Pizza to open in the spot.

That cleared the way for Cotton Basics. The new store, called Workwear, features locally manufactured casual clothing, mostly for men. "We like Noe Valley," said Nicole Roche, who will manage Workwear for Cotton Basics. Like Cover to Cover, Cotton Basics has thrived in the neighborhood for the past 15 years. "The area seems to fit our image," Roche said. "People like us here."

At the end of January, workmen and women were busy tinkering with Workwear's decor, but customers were already coming in and trying on threads.

Classy Sweats to Drop Out of Race

In other store news, Classy Sweats, a 12-year veteran of 24th Street (near Castro), is closing, to be replaced by an import gift shop.

Owner Robert Jancula has seen demand for his affordable sportswear decline in recent years. This past fall, he decided it was time to take a break from the life of a small-business owner.

"Team stuff used to be more popular," explained Jancula's fiancée, Lydia Mosk, herself a Noe Valley native. "People in the neighborhood have changed."

Luckily, Jancula owns the building, so he and Mosk will be able to take some time off when the store closes, which should be by mid-March.

Mosk declined to specify what kind of merchandise the new tenant would sell, saying only that it would be a gift bazaar.

In the meantime, Classy Sweats will be shedding its inventory at bargain prices.

Wanted: A Few Good Shops

If you add up the three vacant storefronts in the large complex next to Bell Market, the former Global Exchange space near St. Clair's Liquors, and the Used Book Company (which closed in December), you might think there are a lot of vacant spots along the 24th Street commercial corridor.

But Roddick, of the Merchants Association, says there are no more than usual. Joe Cassidy Construction, which erected the large condo/retail structure on the old Second Spanish Church property next to Bell, is still "looking for the right people," Roddick believes.

In late January, a spokesman for Cassidy Construction would say only that the developer doesn't yet have renters for the spots surrounding 21st Century Video.

There also has been no word on what will fill the former Global Exchange space or the now-empty Used Book Company, on 24th near Diamond.

Roddick is surprised that the Book Company spot hasn't been more successful for retailers over the years. "It's a real mystery place," he said.

After this story went to press, the Voice learned that partners Bruno Guarini and Mauricio Barone will open "Cottage Industry" in the Classy Sweats space. See this month's Rumors column.