Mission Bookstore Modern Times To Close After 45 Years in Operation

Inside the Modern Times Bookstore on 24th Street.  (Courtesy of the Modern Times Bookstore Collective Facebook.)

Mission mainstay Modern Times Bookstore Collective has come to the end of its story.

The 45-year-old worker-owned bookstore will close its doors on Tuesday, Nov. 15, only five years after being displaced from its previous Valencia Street location to a nearby storefront on 24th Street.

According to a press release issued Monday night, Modern Times struggled to sustain itself as a business since its relocation, despite ongoing community support.

“Though we have persevered out of love and duty and a willingness to continue to fulfill our mission, we are the first to admit the store is not operating at the level we would like and we can no longer serve our customer's needs as well as those of our workers,” reads a Facebook post from the collective.

Modern Times has served the Mission District since 1971, when it was founded in response to the Vietnam War. It moved through two other locations in the Mission before settling in its landmark location in Valencia for 20 years. The bookstore housed extensive offerings on topics like politics, globalization and sexuality. It also provided a space for arts and community events, such as a Spanish Book Club and its Modern Comedy night.

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Comedian Nato Green, host of Modern Comedy, says the store offered a place for artists and comedians to stretch out and innovate, adding that San Francisco is becoming short on these qualities.

“San Francisco is a great city to be a comedian, but because of gentrification, audiences are getting less diverse and less curious,” Green says. “Shows at Modern Times immediately drew such a varied audience, and it’s a big loss in that sense. I think the experience of being a native San Franciscan in this day and age is one of continuous farewells.”

The United Booksellers of San Francisco plan to celebrate Modern Times’ 45th anniversary tonight, Oct. 11, at the Make Out Room, a club and alternative performance space in the Mission.

“Our main concern right now is that the Modern Times communities continue to be served, and the books, events, and space it provided continue to be available in the neighborhood," says Denise Sullivan, co-founder of United Booksellers of San Francisco and Modern Times community events coordinator. "We're working on solutions together."

Modern Times will continue to host in-store events up until its final day of business. The store also plans to host a party on Saturday, Oct. 22 to bid farewell to both the business and retiring collective member Ruth Mahaney.

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