By Randi Bjornstad
The lease on Tsunami Books, one of Eugene’s premier independent bookstores, is running out at the end of June, and if the store on Willamette Street with the mural of the big wave crashing over the top is to continue selling books and hosting music, poetry and book signings, its fans are going to need to help out.
Owner Scott Landfield recently sent out an email announcing the plight of the shop, announcing that all day on Feb. 8, he will host a “Public Show of Support “ day, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., to drum up support to keep Tsunami Books open.
It’s not that the store doesn’t make money, but in order to compete with well-heeled competitors who want to buy the place, Landfield needs to come up with a sustainable plan to continue leasing the building.
“There are other major business concerns that want to take over the lease for this property beginning July 1,” Landfield said. “We do not want to leave but do not yet have the financial resources to stay.”
The owners of the property that has been Tsunami Books for the past 22 years have “kindly given me” until the end of March to come up for a plan to finance a lease of five years or more, Landfield said, “but at the very least, the rent will double.”
Right now, he pays $4,250 per month for the 4,000 square-foot space that has not only floor-to-ceiling book-filled shelves in two rooms but also boasts a stage and seating space where authors, musicians and poets can share their creations with the public.
Landfield thinks he can swing the increase if he can prove to the property owners that he’s got an endowment fund to cover a good portion of the five-year lease amount.
That’s where the community comes in.
“The beauty of Tsunami is that we have a lot of people who have been coming in here for 20-plus years, and when they say what they want we try to give it to them,” he said. “We have a small-town atmosphere, and we know how to treat people in a small-town way that they appreciate. If we get a groundswell of support on Feb. 8 — if we can pack the place — we might be able to put together a plan that will let us continue.”
It’s not money that he’s looking for that day, but pledges of support.
“I will be here all day, to meet with people and listen to their ideas,” Landfield said. “I want everyone in town to stop by, just say ‘hi’ and have a little tea.
“There will be a little questionnaire, asking if people are willing to pledge to keep Tsunami going, and second, how much.”
He’s willing to offer a quid pro quo — à la crowd founding projects — to people who donate, Landfield said.
“It’s not that Tsunami isn’t profitable — we’ve been doing better and better for the past several years — it’s a matter of being able to compete with the other people who are out there who are interested in the property,” he said. “It’s all part of keeping the Tsunami spirit alive, to have the kind of arts center here that people have valued for more than 20 years.”
Where: 2585 Willamette St.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Information: 541-345-8986, tsunamibooks.org or on Facebook