In 1979 four mom-friends seeking to find a balance between work and family rented a small space on the west side of Lincoln Avenue, filled it with children’s books and called it Hicklebee’s. The name, they said, described the final metamorphic stage of a bookworm. In its early years, the store established itself as a neighborhood living room of sorts. Readers, non-readers, paying customers or passersby, Hicklebee’s welcomed all.
Eventually, two partners would leave, another would join in, and for the last 30 years, we would remain: a sister team who set out to make the name Hicklebee’s synonymous with quality, community and a commitment to literacy for all.
Over 41 years Hicklebee’s has continued to operate through recessions, the Loma Prieta earthquake, the advent of Big Box stores and the aggressive business practices of a certain online retailer (ahem).
Still, we persisted.
In March when schools closed and non-essential businesses were shuttered, we made the case that books are essential and partnered with the Santa Clara County Office of Education to create the Keep Kids Reading Book Drive- a campaign to put books into the hands of students during the Covid-19 crisis. To date, the program has delivered bags of books to nearly 400 families in need.
Which brings us to this campaign.
Hicklebee's has stayed open in a limited capacity during this pandemic, and while we have been working hard taking orders, shipping books and offering curbside delivery, the loss of foot traffic, community events and school business has been financially devastating. The money raised from this campaign will cover those losses as well as operating costs, including payroll, through August. It will also give us time to prepare for the return of school, for our doors to open, and to welcome our community back home.
We believe that Hicklebee’s is as essential to its community as the gift of reading it offers you.
We are grateful to our community and look forward to recommending your favorite books for years to come.
Be well, and stay safe.
Monica Holmes and Valerie Lewis
A few highlights from our history in Willow Glen and in the bookselling community over the past 41+ years:
- As new members of the Willow Glen Merchants Association, we joined the movement to plant trees along Lincoln Avenue, laying the groundwork for a revitalized Willow Glen and planting the seeds- literally- for the thriving Avenue that exists there today.
- We were key organizers of the first Willow Glen farmers market.
- We have hosted major public events throughout the years, that feature local and international authors and dignitaries for our entire community.
- Hicklebee’s has worked with publishers, authors and national media to encourage literacy as well as diversity in children’s books.
- We have appeared on television, radio, in periodicals and published books to promote literacy.
- Hicklebee’s has received coveted local and national awards including The Small Business of the Year Award 2009 presented by Senator Joseph Simitian and The Pannell Award from the Women’s National Book Association in 2019 and 2004. The Pannell jury wrote: “The winner in the Children’s Specialty Bookstore category, Hicklebee’s Bookstore in San Jose, Calif., is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month. It is the gold standard for children’s bookselling and an extraordinary place that outdoes itself every year."