You Think Moving Your home is a Pain, Try This.

We have a guest post today byPaul Young, a supportor of the bookshop blog from the start.


Imagine having a bookstore with a 12,000-square-foot lot filled with
Acres of Books.Now imagine having to move those books.acres11
That is what Phil and Jackie Smith, owners of Acres of Books, located in Long Beach, California are faced with.Four decades the store has been a landmark in Long Beach but now the powers that be have decided that the location of the store is in the way of their “Project”.

Craig Beck, executive director of the Long Beach ReDevelopment Agency stated,

“We’re trying to create an art-themed building… We’ve talked with the community about an art exchange where artists could live and have galleries to sell their work, where there would be a residential component. We have talked to (California State University, Long Beach) about maybe doing some art student housing.”

My cynical point of view is that it is simply another taxpayer funded boondoggle but I’ll leave that for my personal blog and get on to a more rosy colored point of view.

Acres of Books has friends. Generations of friends. Friends willing to follow them anywhere. Among them is Ray Bradbury who said of Acres in an article he wrote,

“It is a LABYRINTH, a TOMB, a catacomb, a maze. It is the best walk-through multimedia experience, if not on Earth, if not in all America, at least in the western part of the United States. In its dusty roundabout winding corridors, turn here and you collide with Shaw, turn there and you knock elbows with Gibbon, go farther on and you wind up in the company of a wild bunch of Victorian children, nameless until now, surrounding you elephant-high on all sides, calling their titles and daring you to remember.”

Time and Eminent Domain marches on and we see through the following letter from Phil and Jackie Smith a bit of the bookseller optimism about which was recently posted on this site. They are planning on moving as opposed to closing up shop.

Dear Customers and Friends of Acres of Books,Jackie and I have negotiated the sale of our property, building and land at 240 Long Beach Blvd. Acres of Books has been there since my grandfather, Bertrand Smith, moved there in 1964. We still own the book store business, Acres of Books.

We had no choice but to deal with the City of Long Beach, Redevelopment Agency. Craig Beck and Carl Morgan, whom we worked very closely with, treated us in a business like manner, and helped to get us thru some very important issues.

The City is going to let us stay in their building one more year. This will give us a chance to have a couple of stock reduction sales, while we continue to look for a place to buy. We will not be able to have as much stock in a new building, even if we find one as big as we have now. The aisles will have to be twice as wide and not near as high. Oh well.

So, please continue to visit us, just to look around and hopefully find something you have been looking for, at a fair price. As my grandfather, Bertrand, (Pop, as we called him) said when a customer found an under priced gem, “I made my money at that price, that’s enough.”

Let us know your name and address, and we will let you know when we have a sale, and you can save a lot of money.

Come in and say hello to Jackie, Ron, Aaron, Steve, Amber, Mary, David, Sean, Megan, Cheyenne and Chloe. Don’t forget to give Penny, the bookstore cat a pat and rub, or a hug.

Thank you so much, and we hope to see you soon,
Phil and Jackie Smith

So if you live in or have bookaphiliac friends (I know it’s not a word but it should be) you could notify in So. Cal. figure there will be an opportunity to help Phil and Jackie reduce their stock before their move.

In their new location something might be missing. The experience of disappearing from this world and entering another dimension. Or, as Bradbury puts it, “I go to Acres of Books, as I go to Paris, or Rome, or London, or New York, to be-lost.

One thing that won’t be missing from their new location will be the people that run the store. After all. They are real bookaphiliacs.

by Paul Young

[editors note: The escrow went through May 1, 2008 the click is now ticking]

12 thoughts on “You Think Moving Your home is a Pain, Try This.”

  1. Wow, that looks like quite the undertaking…. I wonder how long it’s going to take to move all of that. It’s a shame that they have to relocate, but at least they have the staff and hopefully their sanity after that move.

  2. Last year I moved about 400 cartons of books (over 3-4 weekends) and I was amazed how each box seemed heavier than the previous one.

    After I sell all the books I figure on going into selling cotton balls. Much lighter.

    Thanks for posting this Bruce. I’m sure some booksellers are going to get some deals from Acres of Books. I would but I’ve already run out of space…


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  4. I thought moving my garage full of antique glassware and pottery was tough. I can’t imagine having to box up all those books and move those heavy bookshelves. Keeping track of all that during the move will be tough.

  5. Somebody would really have to kick me in the rear to get me started on that moving project. I had to move about 10-15 books out of my apartment last month and that was no easy task. You would think books are a lot lighter than they really are. Either way, good luck to those guys. Hope they get it taken care of without loosing their heads.

  6. The book business being what it is – constant change – I am sure their move will go smoothly.

    The only tips I would give is to be sure to build 10 – 50 extra book cases and have them set up in your new location before you begin the move and have the layout for the new store pretty well defined so you know exactly where each bookcase in each category will be situated.

    If you are going to shrink the size of your operation it should be easy enough to decide which books you are going to keep – put those in a boxes in alphabetical order so when you get to the new store they just have to be “thrown” on the shelf. Easy peasey.

    Write off the junk you are leaving behind and be happy.

    As the bookcases come empty in the old location move them to the new location.

    The hardest part about moving locations will be the devastating loss of regular revenue. Oh yes – I know owners and operators of retail businesses think they have established a link with each one of their customers which is virtually unbreakable and the customers will gladly follow them to their new location and everything will continue to be hunky dory.


    Most human beings do not like change, many resent change and changes made by others create undue stress in their lives. Their lives are complicated enough without having a retail merchant messing with them. I am sure there are some great statistics out there somewhere to give some idea about just how devastating a move can be in terms of lost customers and lost revenue.

    My mentor moved one block away because his landlord made a minimal increase in his rent and lost 1/3 of his gross sales in the first year – bad idea.

    The only way to minimize the effect is to open the new location six months to a year before you close the old store and start sending the customers over to the new location.

    We have changed locations twice and set up three other stores and it has always worked for us … but then I had my mentor’s experience to guide me.

    North America can’t afford to lose any more good bookstores so I hope things go well – good luck.

  7. What an tremendous task to move that amount of books. If I was in the area I’d be glad to lend my assistance as I have a great love of books. It makes my poor 200+ library of books that I move occasionally look like a gnat on a hippo. Are the aisle’s wide enough to maybe get a small forklift or trailer of some kind between them so you can perhaps move them as you have them filed. Let us know how you do and how long it takes. Good luck.

  8. After spending day and night,moving over 200,000 thousand books,approx 1350 boxes – all packed,picked up and loaded into vans, and repeated at new location with all the shelfs hand built by me.
    All done on my own – it took 3 months and nearly killed me,i would add the following tips :

    1.Buy a old van rather than hire one if it will take more than 3 weeks to pack.
    2.Avoid those purpose built storage facilities,unless they have 24 hours access.
    3.Pack all the books in boxes first,( or at least a van full ), before loading & drive it late a night to avoid traffic.
    4.Take photos of the old shelfs and draw a grid layout ,assign each box a grid reference,D4 etc,as you pack .
    5.Buy a sleeping bag and get a early start each day !
    6.If you use flat pack boxes remember to buy lots of gaffer tape to seal,otherwise try supermarkets for free boxes with a separate lid and fixed bottom – these are easier to pack and unpack.
    7.Check with the local goverment if they have any road works planned that may restrice access at weekends – nothing worse if you have 400 boxes waiting to be unloaded and find there is giant crane blocking the doors.
    8.Have a free day outside where you give away unwanted books and mark em with a cross,to stop them been offered back to you at your new location.
    9.Pack,Lift and Carry the boxes at a slow even pace as you will have keep going for 14 hours per day.
    10.Keep any essential stationary,phone,counter equiment in a different coloured box and store it separate to the books.

  9. I thing moving home is really painful as one had to left the home and settle in the new one. With that transferring goods from one place to another is also very stressful. But if a person take the help of man and van than every thing will be possible without any stress.

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