Book House is relocating, but not done fighting

The 37-year-old store will move to a smaller location in Dinkytown.

The Book House stock manager Kevin Sell moves boxes that will be brought to other locations on May 26, 2013, in Dinkytown.

Bridget Bennett

The Book House stock manager Kevin Sell moves boxes that will be brought to other locations on May 26, 2013, in Dinkytown.

Meghan Holden

The Book House is relocating to a new home just around the corner, but it’s not done fighting for Dinkytown.

Its large collection of used and rare books will be moving to a small space above Varsity Bike and Transit in Dinkydale Mall. Owner Kristen Eide-Tollefson said they plan to open by mid-July.

Book House employee Matt Hawbaker said the compact space will be about one-third the size of the current store.

The new store will take over the space that the Dinkytown Antiquarian Books bookstore once occupied.

Because of the tighter space, the Dinkydale Mall location will be a more curated collection of books, and they’ll be focusing on more online sales, Hawbaker said.

Employee Kevin Sell said they previously considered moving to Prospect Park but decided to stay nearby because “they are an essential part of Dinkytown.”

Eide-Tollefson said the store needs to be out of its current 14th Avenue location by the end of June. The Opus Group plans to break ground on a 140-unit apartment building there in August.

Monte Bute — who’s been coming to the Book House once a week since the first day they opened in 1976 — said he’ll continue going to the new location, but he’s sad about the move.

“Book House is one of the anchors of Dinkytown,” Bute said. “What you find here is serendipity.”

The new location will allow the Book House to have a more selective stock, Eide-Tollefson said. But the new space may not be permanent.

Hawbaker said the Book House hopes to move back into a larger place in the future, but it seems unlikely if Fifth Street is rezoned for new construction, as Opus has proposed.

Developers open spaces in Dinkytown for their offices, he said, and small-business owners can’t afford the higher prices.

Although Book House employees said they’re happy the store will stay in Dinkytown, they’ll still be fighting against the development of the Opus project.

“This deal is not done,” Hawbaker said.

Community group Save Dinkytown’s petition for an environmental assessment of the Opus apartment project will be addressed at the zoning and planning committee’s June 6 meeting. The city of Minneapolis denied the application for an assessment, saying the group didn’t provide enough evidence that the project would negatively impact the environment.

There won’t be a public hearing, but a Save Dinkytown representative will have an opportunity to address the committee, according to the meeting agenda online.

Bute said these wars with developers aren’t new and Opus doesn’t understand the culture of Dinkytown.

“The Book House is an idea that’s bigger than [the] Opus project,” Bute said.