WATSONVILLE — Watsonville resident Maia Cahill came to Kelly’s Books Friday to pick up a book she had ordered, browse the store and, perhaps most importantly, to chat with owner Kelly Pleskunas.
“Kelly is a ray of light in the community,” Cahill said. “Here, I can always find what I’m looking for. I love books, and Kelly shares such a passion for her books. ”
Pleskunas said she has slowly been rebuilding her customer base since she reopened one year ago in the Watsonville Square Shopping Center, just doors away from Nob Hill grocery store.
“Every day, a new customer comes in,” she said.
Pleskunas is a friendly woman with a quick smile. She has a deep knowledge of – and passion for – books of all types.
In 2016, she closed the 23-year-old store in the Crossroads Center, which was then called Crossroads Books, after she and seven other businesses were evicted to make way for the Kaiser Permanente complex.
Pleskunas said she held on to much of her inventory in hopes she would reopen one day.
She did so just seven months later.
Pleskunas reopened the store during a time of tumult for bookstores of all stripes. Internet giants such as Amazon have long dominated book sales and all but destroyed independently owned shops across the U.S.
Most recently, Logos Books in Santa Cruz shuttered its doors after nearly five decades in business.
That left the county bookended by Kelly’s in South County and Bookshop Santa Cruz in the north.
“That was a huge blow for the community,” Pleskunas said. “As long as there is a bookstore around, it makes me happy.”
The new store is small and cozy, but nevertheless well-stocked. Customers say that, if Pleskunas doesn’t have a title, she will get it. Quickly.
Visitors can also browse a table chock-a-block full of locally-made crafts such as soaps, jewelry, art and chocolate.
In addition, the store hosts local authors. This includes Kim Steinhardt, who will discuss his book “The Edge” on Dec. 9 from 1-3 p.m.
“This is the place to come,” said Watsonville resident Marge Davis, who said she has been a customer since the store’s inception.
A retired teacher, Davis said that the store offers titles – including educational ones – not seen in “ordinary” bookstores.
“There is just something for everyone,” she said.
Pleskunas has hired two employees since she opened, and has a volunteer who helps as well.
“I’m really glad I opened up again,” she said. “I so appreciate all the community support.”
Kelly’s Books is located at 1838 Main St. in Watsonville Square.
It is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday. For information, call 728-4139.
The Cesar Chavez Middle School ukulele club – known as Los Ukelestos – is scheduled to perform at the bookshop on Dec. 9 at 10:30 a.m.