Copperfield’s Books is raising money to purchase the building they have rented in downtown Sebastopol for almost four decades.
“After renting this building for the past 37 years and not being able to agree on a new lease with the landlord, Copperfield’s Books has been given the opportunity to purchase the building,” owner and co-founder Paul Jaffe wrote in a letter to the community.
The 97-year-old building, which used to be the Analy Five & Dime, houses Copperfield’s Books in the downstairs portion of the building and the company’s headquarters upstairs.
“We are the perfect user for this building and are excited for the opportunity to become an even more permanent anchor in downtown Sebastopol and the greater west county community,” Jaffe wrote in his letter.
The purchase price for the 7,280-square-foot building is $1.75 million.
Jaffe is asking for contributions through GoFundMe to help pay the $200,000 down payment on the building.
“We invite you, our amazingly supportive community, to help us in purchasing the building by contributing whatever amount (no donation is too small),” he wrote.
Jaffe started the GoFundMe at the beginning of December, and a week later, by press time, they had raised more than $6,200 toward their $200,000 goal, mostly in small donations of $25 to $100.
Tong Ginn of Sebastopol donated to the GoFundMe. In the comments, he wrote, “Independent book stores are endangered. Having Copperfield’s in Sebastopol is a key element of a vibrant downtown Sebastopol … an intellectual and cultural hub for your beloved town. Let’s join together and make sure it stays with us.”
Sebastopol’s Ann Butterfield also donated. “We love Copperfields!” she wrote. “Every time I think about the easy route to order a book from ‘A’, I instead go into Copperfield's, and they find it for me. Shop local!”
While it was once unusual for for-profit businesses to ask for donations, Jaffe hopes that his west county customers will be moved by a desire to keep a general interest bookstore in Sebastopol’s downtown.
“A bookstore is more than just a retail business,” he wrote. “A bookstore is a magnet around which culture and conversation gathers … Even in our age of dizzying technological advances, a good, nurturing bookstore is an irreplaceable and integral part of a community.”
Aubury Doherty, Copperfield’s general manager, said she’s hearing a lot of support from the community.
“It’s very exciting,” she said, noting that the company would rather own the building than rent. “We would much rather have that be the situation, and the town is really excited about it.”
Doherty, who used to be the director of the Sebastopol Downtown Association, said she’s heard from other businesses up and down the street, who are hoping that Jaffe’s GoFundMe gamble pays off.
“Other businesses here on the street have said, ‘We are so happy you guys are staying,’” she said.
Customers have been equally supportive. “All kinds of people have been coming in and talking about it,” she said.
In Jaffe’s letter, he let it be known that he’s working on a tight timetable. Copperfield’s lease expires on Dec. 31 of this year, and Jaffe hopes to finalize the purchase by Jan. 1.
Jaffe said Copperfield's is committed to staying in Sebastopol.
To participate in the GoFundMe, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/qyeb4-beloved-bookstore-seeks-place-to-call-home.