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April 9, 2009

For More Information, Contact:
Keith Weissglass (650) 688-6384


PALO ALTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today his selection of Hicklebee’s as the 11th Senate District Small Business of the Year.

Located in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood, Hicklebee’s is a widely acclaimed independent bookstore. The store specializes exclusively in books for children and young adults.

“Hicklebee’s is a champion in the world of reading,” Simitian said. “Over the years they’ve introduced generations of children to the magic of books.” And, said Simitian, “Hicklebee’s continued success despite the challenges bookstores face today demonstrates that they’re valued by our community.”

Hicklebee’s is owned by two sisters, Valerie Lewis and Monica Holmes. The store was founded in 1979.

“We are honored and delighted to be named Senator Simitian’s Small Business of the Year,” said Valerie Lewis. “This April marks Hicklebee’s 30th anniversary here in Willow Glen. We owe a debt of gratitude to our creative staff and to the customers who have kept our dream alive so long.”

Hicklebee’s will be celebrating its 30th anniversary with a series of events on April 18. Senator Simitian will be formally presenting the award at 2:30 PM. Hicklebee’s is located at 1378 Lincoln Ave in San Jose.

This is the fifth year in a row Simitian chose to name an independent bookseller as Small Business of the Year in his district. (Previous honorees were Linden Tree in Los Altos, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Kepler’s in Menlo Park, and Bell’s Books in Palo Alto). 

“As we watch the continual ‘malling of America,’ we ought to take a moment to appreciate our locally owned, neighborhood bookstores,” Simitian observed. “What makes Hicklebee’s so special is the environment they create for young people. They are helping to grow the next generation of well-read young adults.”

Hicklebee’s storefront on Lincoln Avenue is a magnet for readers and authors alike. It hosts a steady stream of guests, ranging from first-time publishers to literary celebrities including J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.

“For the families of Willow Glen and the greater community, Hicklebee’s is much more than a place to buy books,” said Norma Ruiz, Executive Director of the Willow Glen Business Association. “Valerie and Monica have created an oasis for young readers that you can’t find online. The store draws you in to a whole different world, just like the stories on their shelves.”

The bookstore also plays a key role in the local education community. Hicklebee’s hosts “book fair” fundraisers at local schools, and also donates a portion of store transactions when parents mention their school’s name at the register. Many of the 19 dedicated staff members are former teachers themselves.

“Hicklebee’s gets two thumbs up from our school district,” said Leslie Reynolds, President of the Jose Unified Board of Education and Santa Clara School Boards Association. “They are a cornerstone business to all who have children throughout San Jose.”

Though the recent economic downturn has made business even more challenging, Monica Holmes remains hopeful. “There’s something special about a local bookstore that I think people understand intuitively,” she said. “When I see a parent come in who used to visit Hicklebee’s as a child, I know we’re doing something right.”

The Small Business of the Year award is presented by state legislators in conjunction with the California Small Business Association. This year’s nominees will be recognized in Sacramento during California Small Business Day on May 26.

For more information on the award or the April 18 event, please call 408-277-9460 or 650-688-6384.



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