Our Friends at Modern Times Bookstore issued the following press release late today:
On November 15, Modern Times Bookstore Collective will be closing on the 45th anniversary of doing business in San Francisco’s Mission District. Despite the small staff’s best efforts the store could not sustain itself following its move to 24th Street in the face of an untenable rent increase in 2011 at its beloved Valencia Street location. For the last five years the store relied on the support of its members, regular customers, neighborhood organizations, private donors, and wider community support, without which it would not have survived. The store is eternally grateful for the ongoing support of the writers and poets, scholars, activists, community leaders, and readers who stood by during the last five years.
The store first opened its doors at 17th and Sanchez in 1971 as a group of friends responding to the ongoing Vietnam War. A “movement” bookstore, Modern Times sustained two moves within the neighborhood and in its 20th year landed in its most remembered spot on Valencia; it remained there for the next 20 years. Hosting authors diverse as Sherman Alexie, Alice Walker, Slavoj Žižek, Elizabeth Betita Martínez, and Adam Hochschild, Modern Times’ vision had truly grown into its identity as a full service progressive resource for the Bay Area. Developing its Spanish-language section and embracing a wide-range of literature on globalization, politics and world economies, as well as informed sexuality and gender sections, Modern Times had become the go-to resource for politically aware and active residents of the Bay Area.
The store’s move to 24th Street in 2011 turned out to be its final one, and yet its struggle to survive gentrification was in keeping with its 45-year loving and fighting spirit: From the dawn of gay liberation to radical queer movement, from the struggles in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Chiapas, to the Latino community’s contemporary struggle to survive gentrification in the Mission, from women’s liberation and the environmental movement to Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and in the ongoing fights against police terrorism, racism, ablism and mass incarceration, Modern Times has been there. It is hoped that the store’s sensibilities and sensitivities will linger in the neighborhood long after the doors are closed and the books are gone.
“The Mission community is very saddened to hear the news that Modern Times is closing its doors,” said Erick Arguello, Co-Founder and President of the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District. “Modern Times has been a tremendous asset to the city as a whole, from its early days responding to the Vietnam war through the gay liberation movement and through today’s fight with gentrification…Calle 24 has been honored to have had them for the last 5 years in the heart of the Mission District.”
All inventory will be reduced beginning October 15. A closing party and retirement celebration for longtime collective member and bookseller Ruth Mahaney is scheduled for October 22nd at 1 PM at the bookstore. All calendar events through November 15 will continue as planned. The bookstore will announce further closing details as they develop.