Mrs. Dalloway’s, the bookstore that is a central component of The Elmwood shopping district, has new owners.
Eric and Jessica Green have acquired the store from Marion Abbott and Ann Leyhe. The Greens will take over on Nov. 1.
“We are so excited to have the opportunity to continue the legacy built by Ann and Marion in Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts,” Eric Green said in a press release. “We’ve dreamt of this chance in our lives when we’d be able to take such a momentous step and can’t wait to start working with the seasoned team at Mrs. Dalloway’s to move the business forward into its new chapter.”
“It’s clear that Marion and Ann have built a special and well-loved place,” Jessica Green added. “We will do our very best to continue and enhance what they’ve started.”
The Greens bring extensive experience in the publishing world and sales. Eric Green worked at Publishers Group West, also based in Berkeley, for decades, most recently in the sales group. PGW is part of Ingram Publisher Services. Jessica Green has worked at national retailers in the home decor and art supply industries. She is currently at McPherson’s Art Supply in Emeryville.
When COVID-19 broke out in March 2020, Eric Green was among a group of 30 people at Ingram who lost their jobs. A short time later, Abbott and Leyhe put Mrs. Dalloway’s up for sale and the Greens said they couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“Owning a bookstore is something we’ve been interested in for a long time,” said Eric Green, who added that he and Jessica are the kinds of people who always visit bookstores when they are in a new city. They live in Concord. “Me being out of job made it easier to envision.”
Eric Green will work full-time at Mrs. Dalloway’s and Jessica Green will keep her current job and help out nights and weekends. The couple doesn’t plan to make major changes to the store and hope to retain all the staff. As the pandemic recedes, they hope to start having in-house author events again, said Eric Green.
Abbot and Leyhe opened Mrs. Dalloway’s 17 years ago and advertised its sale in April. Before Mrs. Dalloway’s, the space on College Avenue was occupied by Avenue Books.
No purchase price was disclosed.
Mrs. Dalloway’s employs 11 people, two of them full time. It has about $200,000 in book inventory, $23,000 in other inventory, such as gardening tools, seeds, plants, home decor objects, games and other items, and a lease that runs through the end of 2022 with an option to renew for five years, according to its website. The children’s books section is the fastest-growing part of the store and accounts for a third of the store’s sales. Sales have increased steadily from 2004-19, according to the owners.