The Ollivander of Eaton Avenue

One of six rooms inside Creekside Books, San Carlos

A man walked into Creekside Books on Eaton Avenue and after wandering around a bit, called out, “Are there…categories?”

Following a brief chat, shop owner Andy Miller guided the customer to a small, unmarked section of military history books. “How long have you been here?” the man wanted to know.

These are two of the most common questions Miller hears, along with, “How have I missed you being here?”

“I’ve even heard that from people who live just a few blocks away,” Miller said with a laugh.

It’s not a mystery why so many San Carlans don’t have a clue there’s another bookstore besides The Reading Bug. (In fact, there are three bookstores in SC, but that’s another post for the future.)

Creekside Books – specializing in quality, mostly hardback books – is located across the street from south Laurel in a former dog grooming shop.

Creekside Books, 1133 Eaton Avenue, San Carlos

Foot traffic is limited to people headed to eat at Mack’s BBQ or The Office, snagging a shave and cut at Jimmy’s Barber Shop or doing business in any number of nondescript offices.  Passersby aren’t taking a leisurely retail stroll. Then there’s the fact that Creekside Books flew under the radar for nine months.  While it opened in January, it’s had a sign for only three weeks thanks to a leisurely sign maker.

“It’s a destination bookstore,” Miller said of his shop, which also carries signed autobiographies and rare, collectible editions.

Miller – who’s spent 25 years in the bookselling business and has owned several stores – says he plans to add a fine art area with a gallery of original art and works on paper, including lithographs and etchings.

While Creekside carries about 15,000 titles, with an additional 8-10,000 stashed elsewhere, there’s one thing you won’t find. “We don’t carry rack paperbacks,” Miller said, referring to the mass-market paperbacks that sell in the $3 range, popular for plane and beach reading.

Unlike chain or large indie bookstores, Creekside is less organized, but charmingly so. The shop has six rooms, each (mostly) devoted to literature, art, poetry, drama, architecture and lots and lots of children’s books, like one published in 1958 and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Then there are miscellaneous categories including sports. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Miller can make a referral or maybe it’s a title he sells in his online business through Amazon.

When the Laurel Street Spy asked for anything by Edward Gorey, Miller walked directly to a shelf covered with books, lifted up a stack and produced several by the quirky author/illustrator.  “How’d you know where to find them”” I asked

“I know where every book is,” Miller replied.

Considering they’re stacked to the ceiling and scattered in piles around the place, the experience at Creekside Books is reminiscent of a scene out of Harry Potter, where Mr. Ollivander – of Ollivander’s Wand Shop in Diagon Alley (south side, like Laurel) – plucks just the right wand from a wall of boxes for young witches or wizards. And yes, if you ask, Mr. Miller can produce a Harry Potter hardback upon demand.

Creekside Books

1133 Eaton Avenue

San Carlos, CA 94070

(650) 486-1413

Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm

Parking: 5 dedicated spaces in lot and street parking, too.

 

Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm

 

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