Coronado’s Bay Books Celebrates 25 Years In Business - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Home And Business

Coronado’s Bay Books Celebrates 25 Years In Business

by Alessandra Selgi-Harrigan | Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2016 12:36 pm

Twenty five years ago Bay Books opened its doors with a few books in a much smaller space than today’s. The store survived the recession thanks to locals and tourists who have flocked to Bay Books despite the advent of online retails that can afford to sell books at a lower price. Many locals make a conscious decision to buy books at Bay books to support the store or call to order a book that is not in stock.

Two step sisters, Shirley Muller and Shirley Hanson, opened the store in the space where Muller had previously operated a high end flower shop. Shirley Muller felt she needed to go back to her true love: books. Shirley Muller owned the first English language bookstore in Mexico City and had originally come to Coronado to retire.

“For an independent bookstore it is a major accomplishment [to be in business for 25 years.] We are hoping to be here for more years to come,” said owner Angelica Muller, Shirley Muller’s daughter in law who took over the business after Shirley’s death in 2002. 

“The first day we opened was the day before Halloween,” recalls Barbara Chambers, store manager, who has worked at Bay Books for all these years. “I told [Shirley,] ‘We can’t open.’ We only had 500 books,” she recalled. Barbara Chambers said Shirley Muller quickly came up with a solution and turned the books to show the covers so it would appear the store had more merchandise.

“Barbara kept her grounded. Shirley used to have all types of celebrations at the store with catered food, musicians, huge parties, then things got harder and we got into survival mode,” said Angelica Muller.

After Shirley Muller’s death, Angelica Muller quit her job as a Chief Financial Officer for an international investment firm to see what could be done with the store. “People thought I was crazy to do that,” she said. When she first took the reins of Bay Books she used her administrative management skills to look at margins and what could be done to increase revenue. Some of the options were to reduce the size of the store and cut down on staff but she was not willing to go that route and came up with a plan. “Let’s think outside the box,” she said to herself. Her focus was saving the store and making sure it stayed in business for many years to come.

Angelica Muller knows the importance of the local residents’ support. “They appreciate having the store. They don’t mind paying full price and appreciate having a bookstore in town.” 

“We used to laugh about it. Who’s going to buy a book without looking at it,” said Barbara Chambers recalling when she first heard of Amazon, but sales did go down for while. Fortunately in the last six years sales have gone up 40 percent explained Angelica Muller. “We have really dedicated buyers,” she said.

Angelica Muller aims to make the store a destination where people can browse and and has strived to make it a one stop shop for presents. She has added more gift items to the selection of books. Those items include toys, puzzles, crafts for kids, purses, jewelry, ponchos and board games. Angelica Muller only buys in small quantities to ensure that when shoppers come back they don’t see the same items for sale and there is always something new.

“It’s making a big difference for us. You’ll be able to find a gift from newborn to 99 years old. They are tasteful. They have helped us survive but our main focus remains books,” she said. The store now sells Papyrus cards, so a customer can get a gift, a card and a gift bag.

“We have two seasons: summer and Christmas. The message is give a book as a gift. It’s the best entertainment you can provide,” said Angelica Muller.

Last year Bay Books was the recipient of the James Patterson grant. Patterson is the author of children’s books and mysteries who supports independent bookstores. His grant benefited 81 store all over the U.S., 17 of which in California. Angelica Muller said it was enough to give a bonus to the employees and install a security system among the projects. “It got us over the hump,” she said.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary Bay Books will hold an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 27. The event will include wine, appetizers and raffles and it is open to the public. “We want to thank or customers. We want to thank them. We’d not be here without them,” said Angelica Muller.

“Shirley would be so proud we’re still here. We have diversified so much and still continuing. She was a visionary,” said Angelica Muller.

Yes there have been hard times for Bay Books over the years. “But guess what? We are still here,” said Barbara Chambers.