Volunteers save Concord's Berkshire Books just in time for the holidays

Lynn Kuehl has owned Berkshire Books for 15 years, one of the few remaining independently owned bookstores in Concord. It has mostly been a one-man operation, but in November, Kuehl experienced a strange tingly sensation in his right leg. 

“As I was getting ready to come to work, I realized I couldn’t feel anything in my right foot,” said Kuehl.

Kuehl checked into Kaiser Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an aneurism and a blood clot. To save his life, doctors had to amputate his right leg.  

It will be another few weeks until Kuehl can receive a prosthetic. He is slowly regaining his strength, but is not able to climb ladders and move books while on crutches. His store was endanger of closing through the holiday season. 

“My friend Edi Birsan, who’s on the city council in Concord, is kind of the Energizer Bunny. He said ‘How can I help? What can I do? Who can I contact?”

Birsan ended up contacting the local newspaper, The Pioneer. 

“He was the last store standing in Contra Costa County,” said Joel Harris, who owned Clayton Books, which closed nine years ago. 

“I sent out an email to my former employees of Clayton Books, some friends and members of business group,” said Harris. 

“I got 24 volunteers to man the stop until the 22nd.”

The volunteers have come in daily to help Kuehl. 

“We set up the Christmas display, we shelved and moved piles of books he didn’t have time to do, and put up a new open sign,” said Harris. 

Over the weekend, Berkshire Books hosted authors for book signings and a school group. 

“It touched my heart that people were willing to do this, especially during the holiday season,” said Kuehl. 

The volunteers said they were happy to give back to keep a small business owner in business throughout the holidays. 

Kuehl said he will likely need some additional help in January before he gets fitted for his prosthetic.