Cellar Door Bookstore owner, Linda Sherman-Nurick, had to deal with a sudden eviction notice sent January 17 via email. As a result, Nurick’s schedule is flooded with the consequences of interrupted business operations and the chaotic search for a new home for Cellar Door. The notice gives her 40 days to leave her current location, not nearly enough time for the thriving business to find a new space to operate. The treatment of Cellar Door leaves a lot in question about Canyon Crest Towne Center management’s motivations for the lease termination.
Previous arrangements have left Cellar Door vulnerable. Long-term tenants were expected to pay additional fees for common area maintenance. Considering Cellar Door’s financial capacities, Nurick negotiated a monthly payment that excluded the additional fees.
Jeffery Lerch, the new manager of CCTC, has not been clear about the reason for Cellar Door’s termination of lease. According to CCTC management, Cellar Door had met their rental obligations and there were no outstanding complaints against them. Lerch claims that talk of CCTC management’s decision to terminate the lease was politically or radically motivated is unfounded and “could not be further from the truth.” Lerch states that he has plans for a “larger strategic initiative” that will affect several tenants including Cellar Door.
There has not been clarification about what “larger strategic initiative” would entail for CCTC nor why businesses like Cellar Door did not fit their “strategic initiative.” Rather, Nurick is left to consider the many implications of management’s unwavering position to remove Cellar Door from CCTC’s premises, “I think the eviction indicates a lack of understanding on their part. Particularly those who would like to see us gone. I think the uproar that our community has created because of this shows that independent bookstores are loved and that they are worth fighting for.”
Cellar Door’s more progressive community programs have been met with hostility and anti-queer rhetoric prior to the termination notice. According to an email released by a UCR Creative writing Department head, the new owner of Arcade café has been seen protesting against Cellar Door’s Drag Queen Story Hour as well as Nurick’s ongoing masking policy and display of novels by marginalized authors. The email furthers that management has been sent many letters in opposition of Cellar Door, however, the recent outrage is evidence of a larger Riverside community that is in support of the bookstore.
In response to the community members that were interested in helping, Cellar Door posted an update on Instagram. “If all of our supporters could call, email or write to management and request a Jul 16, 2023 end date, that is six months from the notification, that might persuade them”
The independent bookstore has welcomed UCR writers, professors, and students alike. Book clubs led by the Cellar Door staff, met regularly while local children perused Cellar Door’s diverse collection. Nurick’s community programming has involved UCR, RCC, and other local K-12 schools in the area. Cellar Door announced that they are determined to find a new home and re-open even stronger than before.