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Hobbit Bookstore Moves to El Cerrito from Berkeley After 36 Years

A science fiction and fantasy bookstore that was a Berkeley fixture for 36 years, The Other Change of Hobbit, moved to El Cerrito this week without much fanfare as it shifts its inventory to its new digs in the old El Cerrito City Club building on Kearn

An East Bay institution among science fiction and fantasy fans, The Other Change of Hobbit bookstore, has joined the cultural migration from Berkeley to El Cerrito.

The bookstore began operating quietly this week with limited hours as it continues to install bookcases and move its inventory into the cavernous space in the former El Cerrito City Club building on Kearney Street at Potrero Avenue.

"It's still sort of oozing into existence," proprietor Dave Nee told Patch on Wednesday.

Much of the move occurred on Saturday, and on Monday, the store's Facebook page invited customers to drop by between 4-7 p.m. 

As it continues getting set up, the store plans to be open during those same hours on weekdays and can be available on weekends by appointment, Nee said. The lease officially begins April 1, he said.

He moved the business from Berkeley because he could no longer afford Berkeley rents in the face of dwindling business, he said.

Nee, who has lived in El Cerrito for the past four to five years, said he had been looking for a new space in Berkeley for the past six months to a year. At the same time, he had walked by the old City Club space in El Cerrito several times and saw the "For Rent" sign in the window. He walked in one day.

The 4,000-square-foot space was too large, so he negotiated a lease for half, he said. Located in the building on either side of him are Cerrito Printing and another bookstore, Hackenberg Booksellers, which deals in rare books.

Nee was a student at UC Berkeley in 1977 when he and the other two founding partners started the business on Telegraph Avenue. It moved to Shattuck Square in 1993 and then moved again to Adeline Street in South Berkeley in 2010 before closing in February. The other two partners, Tom Whitmore and Debbie Notkin, are no longer with the business. 

"The store grew out his (Whitmore's) and my passion for collecting science fiction books," Nee said.

Nee describes why he moved in the attached short video clip.

Heidi Rand March 28, 2013 at 01:33 PM
What great news! I love this store! Thanks for the heads up.
Local Mom March 28, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Cool - welcome to El Cerrito! Any new retail is good news.
Carolyn Rissanen March 28, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Very exciting!
Stephen Beale March 28, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Uh-oh. I walk by there every day, and I'm already running out of bookshelf space.
Dorothy Coakley March 28, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Fantastic story, Charles! Thank you for finding the new location early on. (Glad to have you still on the beat, CB!) Oh...and David! Welcome aboard. You already know EC as a resident, of course. May your store prosper in its new location! Looking forward to seeing you soon.

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