For 47 years, Walden Pond Books has served Oakland as a hub of local literary culture. Up until March 17, when public health concerns first shut our doors, you could still find owner and founder Marshall Curatolo, now 92, behind the counter and shelving books on a regular basis. Truly a family-owned and operated business, Marshall’s bookstore is managed by his son Paul with daughter Cassie working as a full time employee. 

Since 1973, Walden Pond Books has fundraised for local schools and nonprofits, helped establish other small businesses and local independent bookstores, promoted Bay Area authors, created jobs and nurtured Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood. Generations have grown up in and around the bookstore, patrons and staff alike. Thanks to the support of our loyal customers and the community, the store has withstood competition from big-box bookstores, Amazon, and e-books. But now, as the COVID-19 public health emergency impacts small businesses week after week, Walden Pond Books really needs your help. 

Walden Pond Books is currently closed to the public in compliance with city and state shelter-in-place orders. We have adapted to the situation by taking orders over the phone and making our books available online. Though we are grateful for the business we are doing while our doors are closed, these sales don’t come anywhere close to the business we usually do, and the future of the bookstore looks increasingly dire. 

Walden Pond Books employs 15 staff members, some of whom have been with us for over 20 years. We want more than anything to continue to serve Oakland, to be able to open our doors again when it is safe, and to see our customers once again browsing our aisles.  

To do this, Walden Pond Books is asking for direct support from our community. We still have to pay utilities, rent, payroll, and publishers and would like to provide additional financial relief to our employees. Many small businesses have turned to fundraising during these times, and though this was always a last resort for us, we have exhausted our other resources and are now reaching out to you. All donations given to this campaign will support the reopening of Walden Pond Books after the shelter-in-place ordinance is lifted. Further, it will ensure that we remain a viable business, whatever the market looks like when the pandemic is over.

If you can give any amount, we are truly grateful. We know that this is a difficult time for everyone - financially and emotionally. There are other ways to support us and other local bookstores, as well. Spread the word. Encourage your friends and family to phone in orders for books and gift certificates and to patronize independent bookstores’ websites and online stores.

Thank you all for supporting Walden Pond Books for nearly 50 years. We cannot say how grateful we are to our customers for allowing our family business to thrive all these decades. We want to see our staff behind the counter again. We want to see our staff filling our shelves with books and recommending great reads. We want to see our customers roaming the store again looking for just the right book. We want to survive. Thank you for any help you can give.


Donations ()

  • Linda Wright 
    • $100 
    • 1 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $18 
    • 2 d
  • Gail Grigsby 
    • $25 
    • 2 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $150 
    • 4 d
  • Joe Hill 
    • $100 
    • 4 d
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Cassie Curatolo 
Oakland, CA
Paul Curatolo 
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