Hayward’s only bookstore turns 55

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Hayward’s only bookstore turns 55

PHOTO BY SHANNON STROUD/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY SHANNON STROUD/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY SHANNON STROUD/THE PIONEER

Kern Wallace,
Contributor

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It was a festive day at The Book Shop. The front of the store was warm and inviting with small shelves at the height of an average person.

In the back of the store, shelves full of books towered above the patrons. Walking through them was reminiscent of traveling in a forest of redwood trees. The used books, with crinkled spines and musty paper, sat in the center shelves. The walls had newer books that had not yet experienced the hand of a reader.

Above the front door hung a banner that commemorated a special occasion: The Book Shop, the only bookstore in Hayward, celebrated its 55th anniversary on Saturday. A steady stream of customers and well-wishers flowed in and out throughout the day.

We’ve made it through the booms and busts of the industry. I think we have a good many years in us still.”

— Stephanie Foster

Virginia and Ken MacKenzie opened The Book Shop in downtown Hayward in April 1960. They owned the store for 21 years at 22554 Main Street, before moving to 982 B Street in 1981.

In 1989, when the MacKenzies were ready to retire, a man named Hank Maschal wandered in looking for advice about starting a used bookstore.

They convinced him to buy their store later that year, believing that he would do a good job managing it in their place.

In 1992, he moved the shop a block over to its current location at 1007 B Street in the historic Green Shutter Hotel, using a brigade of customers to move the books from the old location to the new one in a day.

In 2009, Maschal decided to retire. Four long-time patrons, Carl and Marilyn Baker-Madsen with Alison and Sherman Lewis, took over the shop and continue to operate it to this day.

In 1995, young Renée Rettig walked into The Book Shop looking for her first full-time job.

“A friend called me from a payphone and told me that The Book Shop had just put up a Help Wanted sign,” Rettig said. She went on to say that she went into the store to apply and got the job within an hour of the sign going up. She’s been working at The Book Shop ever since.

The Book Shop employee, Stephanie Foster, Speaks to store regular Jerry Robinson during the The Book Shop’s 55th anniversary celebration in Hayward on Saturday.

PHOTO BY SHANNON STROUD/THE PIONEER
The Book Shop employee, Stephanie Foster, Speaks to store regular Jerry Robinson during the The Book Shop’s 55th anniversary celebration in Hayward on Saturday.

As the celebration carried on, the mood in the store remained jubilant. Long-time customers came in and were greeted with a warm welcome.
Not a single face was without a smile. Over and over the phrase “Happy 55th Book Shop Birthday” rang out.

A carrot cake with white and green frosting, procured from Fink’s Bakery, a local business, proclaimed “Happy 55th Birthday The Book Shop” from a table near the front.

Rettig said that purchasing from local businesses is important to them; just as the local community supports the store, so should the store support the community as well.

“I love books so I would come here often,” long-time customer and current employee Stephanie Foster said. “I would keep asking if they had any jobs open and eventually the answer was ‘yes.’”

When asked how The Book Shop has stayed open for so long through all the trials and tribulations of the bookselling industry, such as the rise of online booksellers and the closing of many physical stores, Foster attributed it to the customer base.

“Our customers come here often, and new ones keep coming in,” said Foster.

Customers purchased numerous books throughout the day and this customer base keeps the future of The Book Shop going strong.

“We’ve made it through the booms and busts of the industry. I think we have a good many years in us still,” said Foster.