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A new bookstore concept is coming to Midtown.
Entrepreneur Kevin Standfield and a partner are turning a former office space into a used bookstore and wine bar at 1330 21st St. The establishment will also sell cheese, beer, dessert and coffee.
"My two favorite things in the world are to sip port and read a book," Standfield said. "I like the idea of our customers being able to sit down and hang out and read a book."
To come up with a name, Standfield stuck with a theme he likes. He's calling it Book Monkey, like the Yogurt Monkey shop he and a partner opened on Fair Oaks Boulevard.
"I'm in a monkey thing right now. I don't know why," he said.
Boxes of books sat under plastic Wednesday as the store was being painted. A back wall has already been added. Theatrical lights, a large-screen plasma TV and shelves will be installed in time for the store to open by March 25. The wine bar will be built and outdoor seating added in May or June once a license to sell beer and wine is awarded.
The store has already had a soft opening. The boxed books are being sold for $3. After the official opening, books will sell for up to $10.
"We're open-ish while we're under construction," said Tracy Hernandez, the store's sole employee. "It's dusty and chaotic, but we've still got books out here and lots of finds."
Standfield is opening the store as an offshoot of Holt Concannon, his year-old Sacramento company that sells consigned books for individuals and charities, including churches, through Amazon.com. Those books are sold under the online bookseller Book Quest in Sacramento.
Those books sell for $10 to $30. If they don't sell within 90 to 120 days, they will now be moved to the bookstore and offered at reduced rates. Some books may never make it to the online bookstore because they're priced low from the start. Sale prices are kept competitive or low because high-priced books take longer to sell or may never be sold, he added.
Standfield is poised to become 21st Street's patron saint of books after vowing not to discard any unsold books. He'll return the books or donate them to Loaves and Fishes' Mustard Seed School, Sacramento County Jail or another charity first.
"We give them a shot at the big time. Then we try the brick-and-mortar approach. If that doesn't work, they go to donation," he said. "The landfill and recycling is not an option."
Standfield and his partner aren't particular about the subject matter of donated books. They are primarily interested in hardcovers, but paperbacks are accepted, too. They prefer old books to new because old books sell better online. That way, they don't compete with stores or online businesses selling millions of new books, he said.
Under the consignment deal, Book Quest or Book Monkey takes 30 percent of the profit from each book sale, then splits the rest with the consigner. That can turn into substantial cash for individuals with large book collections or charities whose large memberships donate books, Standfield said.
The majority of titles sold at Book Monkey will go for $5 or less. Those books — about 80 percent of the stock — will bring $1 to $1.50 each to consigners. The remaining 20 percent of the stock brings in $5 to $6 per book to consigners.
Standfield is currently searching for the right person to operate and co-own the wine bar. That end of the business pulls in customers but takes a lot of work, he said. He also expects to open a second store, most likely in East Sacramento, before long. If they can sell 50 books a day, he expects to make $250,000 a year from the entire venture. He's selling 20 books a day now, which brings in $120,000.
Book Monkey will be open daily. Hours will initially be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but will be extended to 9 p.m. once the wine bar opens.
The 50-year-old Berkeley grad has worked as a project manager at corporations including IBM and partnered with people to open several businesses, including Sutter Brewing Company in 1993. The microbrewery later changed hands and became Hoppy Brewing Co.
Standfield said he's devoted to books because they're a critical path to learning and study — and they're in danger of disappearing if society as a whole replaces them with online reading via computers and e-books. His love of books has turned into a nostalgic bid to save as many as he can.
"If we had a mission statement, it would be: 'A home for every book,' " he said.
Photos by Jonathan Mendick and Suzanne Hurt.
Editor's Note: The Sacramento Press editorial has changed the text of the story. In paragraph 15 it was stated that Tamara Gordon was a partner with Standfield for Book Monkey. This is not the case. We apologize for the error.