The opening of the new Two Birds Books in Pleasure Point this Friday is a surprise for plenty of reasons. First and foremost, we’re in the middle of a pandemic which has made it tough for any business to open.
Second, even if this wasn’t a pandemic, independent bookstores are increasingly rare, even in lit-loving Santa Cruz County, and 41st Avenue hasn’t had one since the Capitola Book Café closed in 2014.
But that, in a way, is exactly why Aptos couple Gary Butler and Denise Silva are so intent on opening one. Both have lived in this area for the better part of two decades, and their first place together was in Live Oak. They were fans of the Capitola Book Café—and every other local bookstore past and present—and want to keep the bookstore tradition alive on the East Side.
“We’re both completely obsessed with books,” says Silva. She’s a longtime lecturer in the UCSC Writing Program and a freelance book editor.
As for Butler, who most recently worked for a mental health provider in Santa Cruz, he grew up spending so much time in the local used bookstore in his home town of Longmont, Colorado (which was, by the way, named “The Used Bookstore”) that the owner gave him a couch when he went away for college.
Butler’s experience is a big part of why Two Birds will sell both new and used books.
As for the pandemic part, the couple simply felt the space was perfect, and after putting off their plans all year because of Covid-19, they didn’t want to wait any longer.
“We thought, ‘Maybe we should just go for it,’” says Silva. They weren’t under any illusions that it would be an easy time to start a bookstore. But after securing the space in mid-October, they’re feeling at home in it.
“We knew what we were getting into,” she says. “It’s scary, of course. But we’re starting to feel we made the right decision.”
For Butler, it’s a childhood dream realized—and a mission, too.
“This is what I’ve wanted to so ever since I was a kid,” he says. “We want to spread the word of book culture. We want people to know print books are alive.”
Two Birds Books will have their “cozy opening” (not so much “grand,” say the owners, because of Covid-19 restrictions) on Friday, Dec. 11. The store will be open every day from 10am-6pm. Find them at 881 41st Ave., Santa Cruz. 831-900-5588, twobirdsbooks.com.