Oldest Black Bookstore in US Set to Close


mbs_logo_squareMarcus Books — the Fillmore District institution billed as the oldest African-American bookstore in the United States — is set to close June 18, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The bookstore, which has continuously operated in San Francisco’s Fillmore since 1960, has received an eviction notice from its building’s new owners.

The Richardson family — beginning with Dr. Raye Richardson, the former chair of the Black Studies department at San Francisco State University, and her late husband Dr. Julian Richardson — had owned the building since it was moved there from Laguna Street to save it from demolition during Redevelopment, according to the newspaper.

But a $950,000 home equity loan — with balloon payments, signed in 2006 during the height of the real estate boom — led to the building being sold in a bankruptcy sale for about half of its current market value in April 2013.

The building sold for about $1.6 million.

A neighborhood-based nonprofit is seeking to buy the building back for a three percent profit, but its new owners — Nishan and Suhaila Sweis of South San Francisco — are reportedly seeking $3.2 million, or an 100 percent profit.

The NAACP and other organizations are urging the new owners to allow the bookstore to remain.

The eviction would also mean that Dr. Raye, her daughter Blanche, and her daughter Karen Johnson and Karen’s husband Gregory would have to leave their homes in the flats upstairs from the bookstore.