NewsPositively San Diego


Community raises millions to save iconic Warwick's bookstore

Posted at 5:22 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 20:49:43-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The end was nearly written for the century old Warwick's bookstore in downtown La Jolla, but about three dozen loyal customers raised millions to keep it open.

Warwick's is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, and has been in the same building on Girard Avenue since 1952.

While renegotiating her lease, Owner Nancy Warwick learned that the building's owner received an unsolicited $8.3 million dollar cash offer, which they intended to accept. The independent bookstore was offered a three-year lease extension, which Warwick took to mean its days were numbered.

"Our thinking was three years was the perfect amount of time for a new property owner to pull permits and come up with a new plan for the building," Warwick said Friday.

Warwick's great grandfather started the store in the late 1890s, and it's been passed down for generations.

"It's truly like a second home to me," Warwick said. "I love coming into the store early when no one's here and it's... the store is part of my identity."

She still had a chance to keep it alive. The owner gave Warwick 15 days to match the offer, so she called her longtime customer and commercial real estate broker, Steve Avoyer. He arranged a meeting with his friend and local investor, former San Diego City Manager Jack McGrory.

"Within about 45 minutes I think we had struck a lease deal and decided how to structure a counter offer so that we could buy the building," McGrory said.

The trio lined up a bank and nearly three dozen Warwick's supporters. They formed an LLC and offered $8.35 million dollars. That offer was accepted and escrow closed April 28.

"I feel so honored," Warwick said. "I really want my customers to be very happy with how the store looks."

And Warwick has plenty of time to perfect the store. She's now a partial owner of the building, and her bookstore has a new ten year lease with two five-year options.

Warwick's celebrated the new ownership in a ceremony last weekend. It's also planning special festivities for its 125th anniversary.