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January 23, 2007 > Half Price Books gets new address

Half Price Books gets new address

By Julie Grabowski

After ten years in Fremont's Gateway Plaza, Half Price Books is relocating to the ever-growing hot spot of Pacific Commons. As of January 22 the store will be closed for over a month while settling into their new home. It was not the lure of location, newness, or more space that prompted the move, but simply failed lease negotiations. "Our neighbors are really sad to see us go," says store manager Luis Nasjleti about customers living near Gateway Plaza. The new store is more of a driving destination, limiting the walk in customers and walk by traffic they are used to. But for those who reside in the Pacific Commons area, they couldn't be happier about the move.

While taking up lodgings in a brand new building, customers can expect to find the same old environment of new and used treasures. "Operation will stay the same," assures
Nasjleti. "We're just transposing this store to a new location." Fremont is one of three Half Price Books locations in the state as well as the East Bay; the others stores operating in Berkeley and Concord.

Half Price Books began very humbly in 1972 when the first store was set up in a converted Laundromat in Dallas, Texas. Founders Pat Anderson and Ken Gjemre transplanted over 2,000 of their own books into the store with the idea of selling books at a pleasing price. Their courageous leap proved successful, and has since blossomed into the country's largest family-owned new and used bookstore chain with eighty-eight stores in fourteen states operating on a simple philosophy: "We buy and sell anything printed or recorded except yesterday's newspaper. Helping the environment by preserving and recycling resources and entertainment of every form is our business."

The emphasis on recycling is what makes Half Price Books stand out from other popular bookstores. Their stock is made up of remaindered books (new overstock returned to distributors that can't be sold at full price because they've already been in stores), bargain or package books made to be discount, and those purchased from customers. Stock obtained from customers makes up the bulk of what the store offers, as they accept everything people are willing to sell, from books and magazines to music, movies, and games. "It's kind of our secret sauce," says Nasjleti. With such a diverse influx of material from numerous sources, the store is an ever-changing world of treasures that is new with each visit. While books cannot be ordered for customers, the desired title can be put on the Wish List which assures them thirty days of booksellers keeping an eye out for the book in their store, as well as other in-state stores.

For the sad case of books that aren't selling the store tries to resell them to wholesalers, and practices clearance pricing, offering titles at a super low cost. But for those that just can't find a home Half Price Books pays to recycle the paper. Nasjleti says such an action is the least desirable and last resort for their operation. "We use everything out of a book we possibly can. We try to get them in the hands of someone that can use them."

Besides their devotion to recycling, Half Price books is a proud supporter of literacy, donating millions of books to tax exempt literacy groups, and sharing partnership with Reach Out and Read National Center, National Institute for Family Literacy, Reading is Fundamental, and Literacy USA National Coalition. The Half Pint Library Book Drive is held throughout the first three months of every year with stores accepting donations of new or gently used children's books in order to foster literacy and spread the joys of reading. Donations have established hundreds of libraries in community centers, hospitals, and special needs schools across the country.

Since 1994, stores have released a new edition of 'Say Good Night to Illiteracy' every October, a bedtime storybook by amateur writers of all ages. Proceeds from sales are donated to various literacy organizations. Half Price Books was recognized by The Retail Advertising and Marketing Association and honored with the Peter Glen Award for the project's public service in raising awareness and funds for literacy.

Half Price Books will re-open in March, with Thursday the 15 as the tentative day for a return to sales. They are open seven days a week year round, excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas. The store plans to maintain their same 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. hours of operation, but will take into account the neighboring businesses in an effort to coincide with other store hours. Visit the new Half Price Books location at 43473 Boscell Road next to Jo-Ann Fabrics. They can be contacted at their same phone number, (510) 744-0333. To learn more about Half Price Books visit www.halfpricebooks.com.

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