August 19, 2013

For Sale: Phoenix Books

Just ran across this item:
Phoenix Books, San Francisco, Calif., is for sale. Owner Kate Rosenberger, who owns three other bookstores in San Francisco--Dog Eared Books, Red Hill Books and Alley Cat--described the 1,500-square-foot store as "a Noe Valley cultural institution for nearly 30 years." The store stocks new, used and remaindered books, with a strong emphasis on children's titles and recent releases, along with cards and stationery, much of it created by local artisans. The store also hosts book clubs, reading series and a kids' story hour.

Located across from Whole Foods on the busiest stretch of 24th Street, Phoenix Books has a loyal following in the community, Rosenberger said. "We know a lot of our customers by name. They come to Phoenix Books not just to buy books, but to talk about them with their friends and neighbors."

The store is located in a classic San Francisco Victorian building and includes a full-size basement and the use of a large backyard.

Phoenix Books has four experienced, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic employees. "I only hire bibliophiles," Rosenberger said. "They must be real readers who appreciate both good writing and the book as a physical object. One of the reasons we've been able to thrive in the digital age is that we don't recommend books based on an algorithm like the online stores, but offer personalized customer service. The human element is key."

Rosenberger hopes to find a new owner who shares her "passion for good books and her love of Noe Valley." For more information, contact Rosenberger at
We're wondering what prompted the sale. The building owner that houses Dog Eared Books on Valencia has evicted the two other ground floor tenants. Could the sale of Phoenix pay for a rate increase on Valencia? We're trying to find out. Regardless, Phoenix is prime real estate and a nice-sized space. It would be nice if it stays a local bookshop.

Update (8/20): We contacted Kate Rosenberger and she gave us some more details about the sale. She states that Pheonix is profitable, but needs some updates to compete in today's market (new computer system, space upgrades, etc). She says the lease is solid for years out. She also told us that despite a hefty rent increase, Dog Eared Books is profitable and will remain on Valencia St. Likewise, Badger Books on Cortland and Alley Cat books on lower 24th St are also doing well. But they all take up much of her time and as Kate put it: "The fact of the matter is, I have an 8 year old daughter, and I don't want to miss her childhood."

So Kate is looking to simplify.

Here are some more details from Kate about selling Phoenix:
  • I am asking a modest price for Phoenix, as I would like to see it remain a Noe Valley fixture. I am asking little more than the cost of the current inventory and fixtures.
  • However, to get specific, I would ask interested parties (and there already is one!) to contact me at
  • I am doing my best to sell the shop to an experienced bookseller.
  • I do think the transaction should take place soon, as we are heading into our very busiest season-the holidays.
  • The new owners will be delighted to see the amount of neighborhood support that we receive. At holiday time, we are literally running off our feet, selling books and providing our free gift wrap service.

[Shelf Awareness: Phoenix Books For Sale]


Anonymous said...

It would be really great if Neil who owns that wonderful bookstore in West Portal took it over. Itis a tough business to compete in against the likes of Amazon, but I hope someone keeps a book store in Noe Valley

Anonymous said...

I agree completely. It's a great neighborhood resource. We moved to Noe Valley a year ago, and I've stopped ordering books from Amazon; I buy them at the bookstore instead.

Andy said...

I just called the old Phoenix Books phone# and there is an announcement of a new shop called "Folio Books" opening "the first week in November".

Noe Valley, SF said...

Andy et al - Details on Folio Books here:

Anonymous said...

I just hope that she keeps James at one of the other bookstores. He is just great; and has been there for years,