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Partners go for bookish change.

Byline: ED RUSSO The Register-Guard

Just as Broadway in downtown Eugene has been opened to automobile traffic, three of the former pedestrian mall's retail tenants are departing.

Wipf and Stock Publishers, Windows Booksellers and Theo's Coffee House will move a block north, into the former Anderson's Sporting Goods store at Eighth Avenue and Charnelton Street. Jon Stock owns and runs the publishing house, and he and Doug Randels together own and run the book store and coffee house.

Stock and Randels in July bought the former Anderson's building for $700,000 and say they prefer to house their ventures in a place they own rather than in property they were renting year-to-year from downtown landlords Tom Connor and Don Woolley.

The partners bought the building from Harvey Fox of Salem, who once owned the small, Oregon-based sporting goods chain. Anderson's closed after national and regional sporting goods chains moved into Oregon, turning up the financial heat on locally owned retailers.

Wipf and Stock Publishers, Windows Booksellers and Theo's are all currently in side-by-side leased space in a West Broadway storefront. Windows Booksellers also has a store at Multnomah Bible College in Portland.

At 22,000-square feet, the former Anderson's building has more room than their three businesses need, so Stock and Randels hope to attract tenants to fill the rest of the space.

Their vision for much of the first floor includes Theo's and spaces for shops that sell books, music, food and other products. "We want to create a calm, relaxed environment where somebody can come in and browse for books and music," Stock said. "It would be a place where they could get a cappuccino, or grab a quick bite to eat."

Stock estimates that he and Randels will spend $200,000 getting the space ready to lease. John Metzger of Eugene is the general contractor. Shelley Davis-Gridley of Portland is the project designer.

The partners have a long way to go. They still await final building permits from the city to construct new homes for Wipf and Stock, Windows and Theo's. Stock said he hopes those businesses can move to the Eighth Avenue building in the next couple of months.

Then, Stock said he'll concentrate on attracting tenants to the building, which he and Randels have dubbed The Strand, after the famous publishing street in London.

The literary reference is intentional. Without books - Christian-oriented books in particular - the partners would not be able to afford their dream.

Stock received a masters degree in biblical studies from Northwest Christian College in 1988, the year he opened Windows Booksellers on East 11th Avenue. The store, which sells mostly used scholarly books on Western religion, philosophy and history, was a communal effort of friends, many of whom met at NCC, Stock said.

In 1998, the bookstore moved to the Broadway building owned by Connor and Woolley. Stock's publishing business, which he started previously with John Wipf of Pasadena, Calif., began to grow, Stock said.

Wipf and Stock publishes rare or out of print books used mostly in seminaries, divinity schools and religious schools and colleges. Topics include theology, church history, Christian education, philosophy, archaeology and ethics.

"We move in the world of academic Christianity," Stock said.

The firm's business got a boost when Wipf and Stock started catering to college professors who wanted to continue using textbooks that had gone out of print, he said.

The professor may have needed only 20 books, but Stock said his firm filled the order by acquiring a digital copy of the book from the author or publisher, which Wipf and Stock then used to reprint the book with the latest in copier machines.

"On-demand publishing is the bread and butter of our business," Stock said. "It's an odd little niche."

Wipf and Stock, which sells its books via catalogs and Internet, reached $660,000 in sales in the fiscal year ended June 30, Stock said. It has nine employees.

Theo's opened in 1999. Randels, a longtime friend of Stock's and fellow NCC graduate, holds a minority interest in the firm that owns the bookstore and coffee bar.

Stock and Randels bought the former Anderson's building because of the advantages of owning instead of leasing. Randels' father, Paul Randels of San Diego, Calif., also is an investor.

For example, Stock said, Connor and Woolley prefer to renew leases a year at a time at the Broadway building. That made Stock uneasy about the long-term prospects for staying in that location.

Stock said he hopes to attract local, independent merchants to The Strand to help them compete against big, corporate retailers.

"What I'm hoping is that the place will be attractive to the local business person who can't compete with Barnes and Noble because they can't afford to have all of the things that (Barnes and Noble) has - the bookstore, the music store and the coffee shop," Stock said.

"If they want to be in a co-op type environment, maybe someone will be willing to lease a couple of hundred square feet to sell books, magazines or wine or art. We don't want it to be a flea market atmosphere. We want to set up an independent version of what those large corporations have brought us ... And they are going to see something a lot more eclectic than a Barnes and Noble."

CAPTION(S):

Jon Stock (left) and Doug Randels talk outside the former Anderson's Sporting Goods location at 8th and Charnelton. Carpenter Chad Parker works to remodel the inside of the former Anderson's Sporting Goods store on 8th and Charnelton. New owners Jon Stock and Doug Randels plan to move three businesses to the site and hope to attract more tenants.
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Title Annotation:Property: Jon Stock and Doug Randels prefer to house their three ventures in a building they own.; Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 15, 2002
Words:947
Previous Article:Business Beat.
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