Save Uncle Hugo’s – January Update

The future location of Don Blyly’s Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores is still being decided he told subscribers in his January update. The two stores were burned by vandals on May 30 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis. Blyly has since cleared and sold that lot, and is looking to reopen elsewhere assisted by the Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund at GoFundMe which has raised $180,295 to date.

Fans will also enjoy The Uncles Stories Project, a new website created by his oldest daughter.

Don Blyly

Here are the highlights of Don Blyly’s “How’s Business?” update.

The sale of the old Uncles lot has gone through, but while Blyly was waiting for the deal to close the two properties he liked best for the Uncles’ next location were tied up by other buyers:

As I have discussed before, I did extensive searching of retail real estate for sale as a new home for the Uncles and found 3 options that might work, but didn’t want to be in a position of making an offer until we had the closing on the sale of the old Uncles lot to the dentist next door.  The dentist and I originally wanted to have the closing around the start of November, but the city’s actions caused the closing to be delayed until December 15…. 

I thought of the 3 options as Option 1 (the best, in Richfield, with slightly less retail space but lots of off-street parking), Option 2 (in south Minneapolis, about the same amount of space as the old location, with about 8 or 9 off-street parking spaces), and Option 3 (in south Minneapolis, with about double the space of the old location and no easy way to split off the extra space to rent to somebody else, more than double the property tax of the old location, and no improvement in the parking situation compared to the old location). 

Somebody else bought Option 2 about a week before my closing on the Uncles’ old lot.  My real estate agent contacted the listing agent for Option 1 to arrange for me to go through the space and see how much work it would take to convert it to a bookstore.  He learned that another potential buyer has it under contract, which means they have 90 days to move forward with the purchase or the property can go back on the market.  It didn’t occur to him to ask how far into the 90 day period we are, but the listing agent promised to give him a call if the current deal falls through. 

Blyly will be exploring additional properties. Also, he seen that buying makes more sense than renting.

My agent also sent me information about another possible option in Bloomington, and I found another new listing in Richfield, both of which I will drive by in the next week.  I did a little research on renting a space for the Uncles and was amazed at some of the asking prices, so I’m going to continue to look for a space to buy for a few more months.       

Blyly continues to sell off his personal collection of books, with the money going toward reopening the Uncles.

I’m still listing the books from my personal library on Abebooks whenever I can find the time.  Poul Anderson took a few days, Piers Anthony took a few day, Isaac Asimov took about a week to get through.  Today I did J. G. Ballard (and some other books).  Tomorrow I hope to get through Iain M. Banks (and some others).  At the rate I’m going, I figure it will take me 12-18 months to get through the alphabet if I don’t open a new brick and mortar store and forever if I do open a new store.  You can view the Uncles’ Abebooks listing by going to: https://www.abebooks.com/uncle-hugos-sf%2funcle-edgars-mystery-minneapolis/3358938/sf and click “View this seller’s items”. 

He advises customers:

You only want to buy one book, it costs you the same whether you go through Abebooks or directly through me, but if you want to buy multiple books you will save on shipping by buying directly from me.  The money from selling my personal library will go into the pot of money to try to re-open the Uncles.

THE GIRL FROM UNCLES. Blyly’s oldest daughter,  Mina Blyly-Strauss, has launched The Uncles Story Project, gathering stories about the history of the paired bookstores and their impact on customers and authors. She is still looking for more material to add to the site. Her intro begins with a photo (see it at the link) —

Above is a picture of me as a young child on the counter of Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore with my dad (Don Blyly) to the right and his friend and long-time employee, Scott Imes, to the left. Uncle Hugo’s predated me by almost a decade, having been started in Minneapolis in 1974 by my dad. He started Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore a few years later, though still before I was a glimmer in anyone’s eyes. This being the case, I grew up never knowing a world without Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s.

On the Owner’s page, Don Blyly tells how he started the business, including a section on the store dog Ecko. There is also a great story about the late Scott Imes that follow this intro —

Scott Imes: A Manager Like No Other
From 1977 to December 11, 2001, Scott Imes was the manager of Uncle Hugo’s, and he had the most amazing memory I’ve ever encountered. He knew thousands of people by name, what each of them liked to read, the names of all their kids, where their kids were going to college, what their kids were studying at college ,etc. He was dedicated to getting people to read more sf and fantasy, was always making recommendations, and always asking for recommendations. 

The Authors’ stories page already has contributions from Naomi Kritzer, Jo Walton, Steve Miller and Sharon Lee.

The Customers’ stories page has some really touching testimonials. Here’s David G.’s –

David G.

1981: My first adult job, front desk clerk at the Radisson South Hotel, working for minimum wage. Got paid every two weeks, and after I picked up & banked my check every Friday, I went down to Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore — their original location on 4th St. — and bought one book.

I was on a quest, you see. Gregg Press had printed a number of Fritz Leiber’s books in library-quality hardcover editions, and Hugo’s had them ALL on hand. So each Friday, as I said, I’d  venture down there, make the hard decision, and add one to my tiny shelf of SF hardcovers.

Got ‘em all, though it took time. And to this day, those fifteen books are the cornerstone of my Fritz Leiber library. And so, thank you, Uncle Hugo’s!

Check it out – it’s well worth your time.

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