San Diego’s The Grove Transforms Into West Grove Collective

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After 12 years as a landmark boutique in the hip and historic neighborhood of South Park in San Diego, The Grove has reinvented itself as “West Grove Collective.”

Following a temporary closure in August, The Grove on Juniper & 30th Streets was renovated and reconfigured into two businesses, divided by a wall. Anne Mery's West Grove Collective, a book and gift store, opened for business on September 1. The other half of the original space is now home to South Park Dry Goods, owned by Susan Wells.

“After years of doing something that worked reasonably well, it was time for a change. I wanted  a different focus, designed to serve the audiences that live nearby and visit this great neighborhood,” Mery said.

In her 1,300-square-foot store, Mery, who has been a bookseller since 1991 and previously owned Earthsong Bookstore in nearby Del Mar, is primarily focused on selling books, but she also rents out space to vendors who sell paper arts, clothing, music, travel accessories, and tools for the kitchen, home, and garden. Merchandise from the collective’s vendors is displayed in vignettes, with Mery managing and selling  merchandise on their behalf.

“This concept has allowed me to continue to be a presence in the book business and to curate a collection that I think is important and that people respond to,” Mery said. “It’s a different approach.”

West Grove Collective has several gift areas for kitchenware from vendors such as Happy Home, which offers hostess and home gifts and home and garden items. It also features a section called Philanthropy, which is stocked with fair trade items, including decorative furniture and accessories from the Folk Project. A portion of the store’s sales of fair trade items is donated to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

“While we lead with books, we also have a travel section called Traveler’s Depot selling gadgets, bags, maps, and travel guides; we have a clothing section and we have a children’s section,” Mery said. “We’ve also added a music section with vinyl and turntables called Soundship. Our selection is small but mighty and will be growing.”

West Grove’s book inventory includes a strong trade paperback fiction section as well as nonfiction and books on art and creativity, including resources catering to the neighborhood’s healthy writing community, Mery said.

West Grove already has several off-site events scheduled, including a signing by Michelle Gable to celebrate the paperback release of A Paris Apartment (St. Martin’s Griffin) and neighborhood shop local events such as Taste of South Park this weekend and the South Park Fall Walkabout in October. The store is also providing books for a travel and adventure show at the local convention center.

Though in a smaller space, the bookstore has the ability to transform its layout with shelves and display cases that are on rollers. For in-store events, “we’ll just push them aside and create an instant party if we have to,” Mery said.

One tentatively scheduled in-store event, suggested by West Grove’s Penguin Random House sales representative, is a rep picks discussion on upcoming seasonal picks that will be open to other local booksellers.

With the help of three part-time staff members, Mery also plans to invite local book groups to use her new space for meetings and to set up more in-store book discussions, including one on the controversial release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (HarperCollins), as well as informal neighborhood gatherings like community soup nights in the winters.

“The South Park neighborhood is a cool place to have a business, and [the bookstore] is very well-supported by the neighborhood,” Mery said. “The response from our customers after we reopened has been, ‘We’re so happy you’re back. We’ve missed you!’ and of course, we missed them, too. We had been part of the community, and we want to continue to be a part of the community.”