DIESEL Announces Plan for Sale of Oakland Store

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DIESEL, a Bookstore, logoOn Friday, November 11, Alison Reid and John Evans, the owners of DIESEL, A Bookstore, which has locations in Oakland, Larkspur, and Brentwood, California, announced plans to sell the Oakland store to store manager Brad Johnson. The sale is contingent on the success of a community lender program, similar to the one created by Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting to fund two Greenlight Bookstore locations in Brooklyn, New York. The community lender program differs from crowdfunding models such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo by inviting loans of $1,000 or more rather than donations.

In announcing the succession plan for the Oakland store, Evans said, “We are ready to pass the torch to [Johnson] to carry on this rich and storied tradition, in this wonderful neighborhood that has sustained us and that we have helped to sustain as well.”

Johnson, who will change the store’s name to East Bay Booksellers, said: “Good bookstores are not only profitable businesses, but are proven cultural institutions. This is all the more true today. The current political situation has been and will continue to be a profound shock on multiple levels. But it also deeply affirms what it is we do and stand for. The relief in peoples’ eyes when I asked them in the days after the election, ‘How are you holding up?’ cements the value of this space. It’s a place of commerce, but our goods are ideas and empathy. Neighborhood bookstores offer intellectual sustenance to some; safe haven for others. Our core values are conversation and community — which means openness, diversity, and change. We need these more than ever.”

Friday’s announcement, which stressed that DIESEL is healthy and profitable, said that Johnson is relying on the community lender program to help cover the sizable costs and the need for capital related to his purchase of the business. Loans, which will be legally administrated through a simple loan document and promissory note, will be repaid in quarterly payments over five to 10 years. Annually compounded return rates for all loans will be between 1.5 percent and 4 percent (loan term and rate are chosen by the lender and are private).

If the community lending goal is not achieved, all funds raised will be returned and DIESEL, A Bookstore in Oakland will continue under the ownership of Reid and Evans.

More details about the community loan program and DIESEL’s transition can be found on the East Bay Booksellers’ website and on Twitter. An informational meeting will be held at the Oakland store immediately following DIESEL’s Customer Appreciation Day, on Sunday, November 20.

Johnson can be reached at [email protected].