Beloved San Anselmo bookseller puts shop up for sale
Megan Ann Hansen September 21, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Michael Whyte of Whytes Booksmith in San Anselmo stands in front of his shop. (Megan Ann Hansen photo) Michael Whyte, owner of Whyte’s Booksmith seeks a new custodian to keep the San Anselmo staple in operation for the next generation of local readers.
The bookstore has been in business for 38 years. In 1980, Whyte was manager of the Mill Valley Book Depot, when his dad offered to loan him money to start his own. He thought San Anselmo was the perfect place.
“There were so many young families who value reading and education,” Whyte said. “What I like most about San Anselmo and the Ross Valley is simply that our neighborhoods so deeply appreciate and participate fully in making ours a safe and pleasant little place in the world in which to raise families and enjoy our wonderful friends and neighbors.”
Michael Whyte of Whytes Booksmith in San Anselmo stands near the children’s section. (Megan Ann Hansen photo) In a time when we hear about so many independent bookstores closing, it is interesting to have a bookstore that is trying to sell its purpose to a new handler. Whyte says that’s because he is committed to the community.
“Ross Valley, right from the start, has been tremendously supportive,” said Whyte. “My hope is that the business will continue to provide its important service, to remain a focal point of the community, and continue to prosper.”
Many residents have memories of Whyte’s Booksmith, and Whyte talks of how many young residents, carried through his doors in strollers, are now pushing strollers of their own. Local families have become loyal customers along the way.
“Every year on my birthday, I ask my mom to recount the story of Dec. 12, 1981,” said Sara Van Craeynest, a former Ross Valley resident. “‘We went to Hilda’s for breakfast, then went window-shopping down the street. In front of the bookstore I got my first contraction.’ It goes on from there, but I always loved that part.
“Whyte’s Booksmith was always an ever-present piece of my childhood; I couldn’t walk by without going inside. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in the corner of the children’s section, thumbing through pages, totally engrossed with the pictures, with a stack of books piled next to me.”
Whyte, who raised his three children in the community, hopes he can sell his bookstore in order to spend more time with his grandkids, and travel. He is confident that the bookstore can and will continue to be an important part of the community.
“In downtown San Anselmo, we’ve seen businesses come and go over time, but it’s become evident to we who have prospered here, that those businesses which offer goods tailored to this community, who have really listened to our community’s needs, do well,” said Whyte.
For more information about Whyte’s Booksmith, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Country Fair Day
Since 1970, San Anselmo’s Country Fair Day has been held almost every year for the community by the community. It has a rich history, including a marching elephant named Marji and a Darth Vader actor who had to receive medical attention on an especially hot September day in 1978.
This year, the fair is Sept. 30, with the pancake breakfast at the downtown fire station kicking it off at 8 a.m. At 10 a.m. the fair will take place between Tamalpais and Tunstead avenues, and the parade will begin at 11 a.m. running “the avenue” from Ross Avenue to Tamalpais Avenue. These events will be followed by music and food in Creek Park from noon to 3 p.m. Live music will be performed by Matt Jaffe, a rising star in the Bay Area music scene.
An exciting new addition this year is Cedarsville, a playland to celebrate Cedars upcoming 100th anniversary of supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Cedars has a big presence in Ross Valley, including their art gallery in downtown San Anselmo. Cedarsville will feature a Ferris wheel, a giant slide and a mini-town with activities, collaborative art projects and their farm stand. You can also catch Cedars individuals marching in the parade with the California Repercussions, a 50-piece band of brass, woodwinds and, you guessed it, percussions.
Fore more information on Country Fair Day, and the full schedule, visit townofsananselmo.org/399/Country-Fair-Day.