Lhooq Books has called Carlsbad ‘home’ for the past 12 years.
The quirky bookstore on Carlsbad Village Drive is described by its owner, Sean Christopher, as “a culture hub for artists and enthusiasts of art.”
But the bookstore could be forced to move in just a few months.
Christopher said he received a notice from his landlord that he needs to vacate the property in 60 days. Christopher not only operates his bookstore on the property, but he lives there.
“Up until this notice, everything was fine. The business was growing. The city was wonderful,” said Sean Christopher, Lhooq Books owner.
Christopher explained that over the last decade he had a good, friendly relationship with the property’s owner.
“I had a lease. Above that, was a handshake, eye contact – and [the property owner] saying you pay the rent on time, don’t call for any problems and you can do whatever you want to the property, as long as it is legal. That’s how we worked for over a decade. That’s how I built the community cultural center/book store/non-profit. I turned it into a cute home and raised my son as a single father,” said Christopher.
Over time, Christopher said the property owner got sick and his son started taking over in a landlord role. Despite the change, Christopher said his lease always renewed like clockwork. It would renew every 2 to 3 years without any major changes. But, last month, while registering his 10-year-old son at school --- he noticed something was off.
“I pulled out my lease to show proof of residency like you have to do every year. I noticed on my lease it was only a single year lease and it wasn’t covering me. I called the property management group right away and I said ‘hey guys, my lease is not valid. I need my lease renewed. I have a business. I’m not renting an apartment. I have a house and a business.’ It would be ridiculous for me to be month-to-month,” said Christopher.
That was when the property management group told him that it was a mistake and they would get him his lease.
Christopher said the next thing he received was the letter to vacate.
“On September 16th, out of nowhere, I received a notice to vacate. 60 days. And, it was based on that I was on month-to-month even though they said the lease was a mistake and they were sending me a new lease. I would never have agreed to month-to-month,"said Christopher. "I don’t know if it was an accident or on purpose. I really don’t know at this point."
Christopher reached out to his landlord asking for more time to move his home and business. He also will be in Europe in November helping his European wife with her naturalization process. Christopher said his property management group told him that he could stay until January. He still doesn’t believe this is enough time and is now working with a mediation lawyer.
“I would have to find a suitable retail location for the bookstore, find a home, pay the security deposits and first and last month rents for both of those places and continue to pay the bills here while my only income is the business I’m trying to relocate. So, it’s impossible,” said Christopher.
Christopher says his customers are trying to help him in any way possible. He knows that he has no choice but to move – he just wants more time to do so.
“I was born and raised here. I’m fourth generation here. We are part of the community—the business and community library are part of the community. We’re a landmark. We’re a destination point in our village. But I’ve been looking everywhere, anywhere. I would like to stay in Carlsbad. I don’t know if we will be able to afford it unless there is an angel, benefactor angel, that comes down to help us,” said Christopher.
NBC 7 reached out to Pacific Coast Commercial, Christopher's property management group, and said they don't comment on pending litigation.
Lhooq Books has set up a donation page.