‘An unequalled pleasure’: Elmwood bookstore Mrs. Dalloway’s up for sale

Photo of Mrs Dalloway book store
Josh Kahen/Senior Staff
Beloved Elmwood district bookstore Mrs. Dalloway's is available for sale as owners Ann Leyhe and Marion Abbott have made the decision to retire. Their announcement was met with support from loyal customers, who have recounted their memories of the store.

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Having spent the last 17 years in the Elmwood district, Mrs. Dalloway’s, beloved bookstore and neighborhood favorite, is now up for sale.

Owners Ann Leyhe and Marion Abbott are looking for someone to take over and continue the store’s legacy, as they announced Mrs. Dalloway’s sale on its website April 15. The announcement was met with support from customers on social media, with some recounting their memories of frequenting the store.

Mrs. Dalloway’s, whose name originates from the first line of a Virginia Woolf novel titled “Mrs. Dalloway,” was founded in 2004, according to the store’s website. Since then, it has sold a variety of books and lifestyle merchandise, including gardening materials and plants.

The partners, according to Leyhe, were looking to retire because they are now in their late 60s and have had the store for years.

“We’ve been doing this for 17 years, and we think that there’s probably someone out there who would give it new energy and love it in the same way that we have,” Leyhe said.

Although Leyhe is not entirely sure what her retirement plans are, she looks forward to having more free time and continuing to read, write and garden.

Additionally, Mrs. Dalloway’s will remain a bookstore once sold — a definite condition in the owners’ decision to sell the store, according to Leyhe.

Carolyn Hutton, a co-manager of the store who has worked there for about four years, said Mrs. Dalloway’s has been an “anchor store” in Elmwood as the store has participated in and held events for the community for many years, including an annual “Where’s Waldo” scavenger hunt.

While Hutton is open to a new owner, she said Abbott and Leyhe will be missed by employees and the neighborhood community.

“They’re wonderful, down-to-earth, just really lovely people, so it’s been a joyful experience,” Hutton said.

Hutton also noted that she will always remember the regular moments of laughter she shared with Abbott and Leyhe despite the challenges of retail.

For Adrienne DeAngelo, a customer from Rockridge, Mrs. Dalloway’s quickly became her favorite bookstore in the Bay Area after its opening.

“I specifically remember when Michelle Obama’s book came out, it sold out in a lot of independent bookstores really quickly and I noticed that Amazon had it in stock,” DeAngelo said. “I refuse to order from Amazon, so I waited several weeks for it to arrive at Mrs. Dalloway’s.”

DeAngelo added that her favorite memories at the store were sitting in the children’s section to look through books with her son when he was a toddler.

Both Abbott and Leyhe reflected on the vibrancy and loyalty they have felt during their time at Mrs. Dalloway’s. They noted in their announcement that their decision to sell the store was not “sudden” and that they are excited for the future of Mrs. Dalloway’s.

“We’ve watched your babies take their first steps here, consoled you when your dogs died, celebrated countless birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and graduations with you,” Abbott and Leyhe wrote in their announcement. “It has been an unequalled pleasure, and we feel lucky and grateful to have taken this journey with you.”

Contact Natalie Lu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @natalie_c_lu.