Congratulations to Don Blyly! After searching for twenty months, he has found a new home for Uncle Hugo’s science fiction bookstore and its companion mystery bookstore, Uncle Edgar’s. It will be in Minneapolis about two miles east of the old location, at 2716 E. 31st Street.
Blyly’s two stores were burned by vandals in 2020 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis. Blyly has since cleared and sold that lot and been looking to reopen elsewhere assisted by an insurance payment and the Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund at GoFundMe which has raised $191,385 to date.
He told readers of his January 28 “How’s Business?” update —
We reached agreement on the price of the building that I wanted to buy for the new Uncles location and I passed along the earnest money check to my real estate agent midweek and he passed it along to the title company. So the deal will go through unless something totally unexpected happens before closing. Closing is tentatively scheduled for March 24, and I hope that contractors will be able to start working on the building around the beginning of April and I hope we can open sometime in June. (Of course, EVERYTHING has taken longer than I hoped since the fire, so no guarantees that this will work according to plans.)
The building I’m buying is about 2 miles east of the old location at 2716 E. 31st St, a block south of Lake St. and about 3 ½ blocks from the light rail station, so it is convenient for people who rely on public transit. It is about half a block from Moon Palace Books, and the Moon Palace people and I believe that having two bookstores with such different selections so close will do good things for both stores.
He’s acquiring a building that presently houses a stained glass and glass art business.
The building has been home to Glass Endeavors for the last couple of decades or so, but the owners decided to retire and are happy to see the Uncles taking over the space. Glass Endeavors repaired stain glass windows, created new stained glass windows, created fused glass and mosaic glass art, taught classes in all sorts of art using glass, sold supplies and tools for working with glass, and sold glass artwork and books on doing glass art. They are currently having a sale which (I believe) gives 30% off supplies and tools and 20% off finished artwork….
The place is about a century old, and very sturdy:
The building was built in either 1925 or 1926 or 1932, depending on what records you want to believe. (Hennepin County records also have incorrect dates on when the old Uncles building and my house were built, so this is nothing unusual.) The building has a large WPA painting of Minnehaha Falls painted directly onto an interior plaster wall, a large walk-in safe which is probably helping to hold up the roof, and massive support beams in the basement to hold up the first floor, so that you could probably park a fully loaded semi-trailer on the first floor without danger of collapse – which is just as well, given how heavy books are. There is no off-street parking, but a lot of on-street parking, most of it without parking meters.
Blyly is going to get an energy audit done to help him plan what the contractors should do after the closing. In addition to having work done on the structure, and building bookshelves, he has a lot of work to do on his sales and inventory systems.
What needs to be done before opening? Contractors will have to do assorted electrical, plumbing, insulating, and security stuff. I will have to buy and build a lot of book shelves. All of the used books from my house and storage locker will have to be moved to the store, sorted, and put on shelves.
A new computer system with cash registers will have to be purchased and installed, with all the data from the current computer transferred to the new system. And then there are new books to buy. The current computer system has the records of over 21,000 titles that we carried for the 20 years before the fire. Until about a week ago, those records showed the number of copies we had in stock on the day of the fire and min/max quantities (for generating reorders) reflecting what we wanted to have on hand as of the day of the fire. So I have over 21,000 titles to mark the “on hand” quantity down to zero, and then decide on what the new min/max numbers should be. In most cases, if we didn’t sell a single copy in the 12 months before the fire, I’m not going to reorder unless somebody requests a new copy of the title, but there are some exceptions.
For most of the hardcovers that we had at the time of the fire, I’m going to assume the title has now come out in a less expensive edition, but there are exceptions. It has taken me a week to get through about 3000 titles, which means it will probably take until around the end of March to get through the current database. Then I have to figure out all the sf, fantasy, and mystery titles that have come out as new releases for a two year period, plus all the books that will be coming out as new releases over the summer, decide which ones I want to order and how many of each, get all those titles added to the data base, generate a lot of big orders, wait to see how long it takes with supply train problems for the orders to arrive, check off all the shipment against the packing lists, hope that enough book shelves have arrived (supply train problems again) to hold all the new books and figure out how I want the books arranged. Which means a June opening may be overly optimistic. And that I will have a hard time finding time to enter more used books to Abebooks for the next few months.