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Owner of Iconic Bookstore Buys Buildings for $15M

Mitchell Kaplan Started Books & Books in 1982
April 30, 2018
Mitchell Kaplan was a law school student who spent more time in bookstores than he did in the law library. So he knew what he had to do.

Kaplan dropped out of school and started Books & Books in 1982 in Coral Gables, FL. The independent book dealer became an icon in the community south of Miami, with crowds coming for the poetry readings and big-name book signings.

Last week Kaplan partnered with Raimundo Lopez-Lima and Eric Glinsky to buy a two-building, 41,763-square-foot portfolio that includes Kaplan’s flagship store. They paid $15 million, or about $359 per square foot, for 255-265 Aragon Ave. The seller was DLGN Holdings LLC.

Kaplan moved the store across the street to its current location in 2001. Built in 1926, that building at 265 Aragon Ave., is listed in the Coral Gables Register of Historic Places.

Kaplan did not return phone calls, but broker Scott Sime of Sime Realty Corp. in Miami said Kaplan saw this as an opportunity to secure the bookstore’s venue for the long term.

“He’s been at that location for many years and has been paying rent,” said Sime, a transaction broker who represented both sides in the sale. “He figured out that he’d rather be paying himself as opposed to paying landlords.”

Kaplan’s partners are principals of Lopez-Levi Lowenstein Glinsky, a Coral Gables-based accounting firm that is not based in either building.

Aside from the flagship store, Kaplan opened eight more Books & Books locations across Miami-Dade County, including Lincoln Road and Miami International Airport.

Through the years, the bookstore became known for its many books on art, architecture and photography. The first book signing was by Nobel Laureate Isaac Singer.

“From the very beginning, we established ourselves as the store where literary events took place alongside the selling of books,” Kaplan explained in an essay on the Books & Books website detailing the history of the business.

He said the store focuses on selection, service and ambiance.

“Demonstrating value and finding ways to monetize our value has been what has driven our strategy for many years now,” he said. “We provide our customers with a distinct experience that can’t be found in the chains or online.”

Despite the strong competition, Kaplan insisted that he’s committed to growing the business.

“In short,” he said, “I believe the near future will be a bullish period for independent retailers of books. We’ll have to be more creative and look for opportunities that suit who we are, but the opportunities will be there.”

Please see CoStar COMPS #4238924 for additional information on this transaction.

Paul Owers, South Florida Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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