Is Off Campus Books about to close?

Off Campus Books still has a pulse, but it is, by all appearances, a faint one.

The bookstore, which opened two years ago in the prime corner location at Second and Main streets where Diamond W Western Wear used to be, is rumored to be barely alive. Rumors that the bookstore, which caters to students and sells textbooks, school supplies and Greek paraphernalia, is the next downtown business to close have been flying around for weeks.

They got louder recently, when word arrived that owner Ron Tinsley had closed four of the seven stores he owns. All the stores are called Off Campus Books, and all are located in college towns. The Chico store, along with the Davis and Long Beach stores, are the sole survivors of Tinsley’s big sell-off.

Maggie Dietz, the manager of the Chico store, said she’s heard the rumors “all over town” but tries to discount them. Tinsley, she said, has assured her that he plans to keep the remaining three stores open “if at all possible.”

“All I can tell you is what he’s told us, and that’s that he wants to keep this place open,” Dietz said.

Even so, the store does appear a bit bleak. Almost half of the store’s shelves stand empty, and inventory even on the stocked shelves appears pretty thin. Dietz said she and the assistant manager are the only two employees still working there.

Dietz admitted that business has been pretty slow but added that there’s always a slowdown in sales mid-semester. She’s worked for Tinsley for five years—one year at the Chico store—and said she’s seen slowdowns before.

“We’re hanging in there,” she said.

Tinsley, who works out of a Davis warehouse, didn’t return phone calls.

The rumors of Off Campus Books’ demise come on the heels of two major downtown business closures. Tower Books, which was located next door to Off Campus, closed its doors April 1, and Sundance Records, long a stable downtown business, announced that it would close in May.