Cathie Anderson: El Dorado Hills' Face in a Book part of small-bookstore uptick

Published: Tuesday, Jun. 5, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jun. 22, 2012 - 10:39 pm

When Borders closed in Folsom, book lover Tina Ferguson of El Dorado Hills surveyed the bookstore landscape and saw a life barren of a favorite pastime, browsing books.

So she did something about it. After investing roughly $250,000, Ferguson can browse again, and so can you at Face in a Book at 4359 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 113. Ferguson said people are still discovering her El Dorado Hills store, which has been open about a month. It contains 8,000 books, an airy interior design by Sacramento's Benning Design Associates, and plenty of gift ideas.

"Eighty percent of the shoppers in bookstores are women," said Ferguson, citing facts she picked up in intensive workshops on how to run an independent bookstore. "… And women are always looking for gifts."

Dan Cullen of the American Booksellers Association said the number of independent bookstores actually has been on the uptick in the past few years, and Borders' closure has helped.

Look across the region to Davis for another example. The Avid Reader expanded Friday into a second storefront in that city, 605 Second St., where it sells active- lifestyle books, including volumes on home, gardening and travel. Its "think" books – literature, philosophy, science fiction and such – remain a couple doors down at 617 Second St.

If the 'gimme cap' fits ...

Business is full of contradictions, and at 30 years of age, Elle Huftill-Balzer represents one of them.

She doesn't fit the farmer profile – typically a man pushing 60 – but in talking to her, you get the feeling she has staying power.

She's been working at Feeding Crane Farms in Natomas for about three months and taking classes at the California Farm Academy in Winters since February. Huftill-Balzer starts work at 6 a.m. and leaves around 5 p.m. She earns $10 an hour but talks as if she won the lottery.

"I catch myself every now and again thinking, 'When am I going to have to go back to work?' " she said. "And then I stop and realize I am at work."

If you thought the only hat a farmer wears is a "gimme cap" – the freebies they get from feed stores – let Huftill-Balzer re-educate you.

"I didn't realize how many components there were and what you'd have to do if you were a one-man team running your own farm," she said. "You have to be a marketer. You have to be a delivery person. You have to be a field worker. You have to be a networker. … It's not just working in your field."

If you'd like to monitor Huftill-Balzer's progress, stay tuned, because this column will periodically check on her.

Knowing your handicap

The golf-centric Timlick development in Truckee didn't get off the ground, but Dallas-based New Martis Partners bought the property last year, renamed it Schaffer's Mill and started construction last week on a $12 million-plus clubhouse village.

Talk about a contrarian move. Hundreds of developers have bailed on such projects in the last few years. But New Martis managing partner John Marlin said he thinks there's money to be made in the Martis Valley, which is right next to the Northstar ski resort.

It's the firm's first golf course development, Marlin said. He said the clubhouse would go in upfront at a reasonable price, so homebuyers don't have to absorb big fee increases down the road.

The designer golf course is already built. And with a call to the concierge, residents of Schaffer's Mill can use a 48-foot yacht moored nearby. The vessel's name: No Brainer.

Schaffer's Mill Clubhouse Village will include a central square, several eateries, a family pool and a sports shop. The property's name pays homage to lumberman George Schaffer, known as the "Father of Truckee."

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