Recycled Reads opened on Burnet Road near North Loop Boulevard in 2009 and accepts books, CDs, and DVDs and recycles them or sells them for around 50 cents to $1 each.
The city debated in 2016 whether to renew the store’s lease because it was losing money. The city decided to keep it operating to improve the city’s “zero waste” goal.
Recycled Reads’ general manager, Mindy Reed, said the surrounding commercial area has grown significantly since the store opened ten years ago, with trendy restaurants and luxury apartments. This growth has led to rising rents, costing taxpayers more money.
“It was becoming clear two or three years ago that we were doing something really good and socially responsible, but fiscally we had to figure out a better way to be of benefit to the community,” Reed told the Austin American-Statesman this week. “The city takes our lease commitments very seriously. We are not going to walk away from a lease, even if we are upside-down.”
Looking for cost-saving measures, Austin decided to sublease space at Recycled Reads to the nonprofit Austin Creative Reuse, which shares similar goals for reuse and recycling. The nonprofit plans to take over two-thirds of the Burnet Road store and would pay $6,257 of the $10,092 monthly rent — at least until 2022, the end of the city’s current lease.
The Austin City Council still must vote on the proposed lease agreement, likely at the end of January.
Reed said Recycled Reads would continue to operate as normal if it’s approved, selling books and taking donations.
“In the meantime, what we are going to do is make sure that the Recycled Reads experience is available throughout Austin instead of one spot on Burnet Road,” she said. Austin’s used bookstore hopes to expand from its North Austin storefront to libraries across the city in 2019.
She said the goal is to create satellites at each of the city’s twenty library branches. Currently, each location has only a small section that sells used books. These would be expanded to include a greater selection, Reed said.