Children’s bookstore opens in Del Mar

Sandcastle Tales owner Alex Rhett said she opened the bookstore to give back to the Del Mar community, where her family has roots dating back 50 years.
(Kris Gabele, Light of Love Photography)

Children have been bringing their friends, parents and grandparents to Sandcastle Tales, a new bookstore in Del Mar that opened last month and exclusively sells children’s books.

“I don’t think there’s a town that has a spirit if it doesn’t have a bookstore, a little community bookstore,” said Alex Rhett, who started the business with the support of her husband and three children.

In 2009, when the family was living in Sacramento, Rhett began hosting gatherings of mothers at her home. The guest list grew to about 200 people before her husband encouraged her to find a different venue to better accommodate her growing ambition to serve the community. The family eventually moved back to Del Mar, where they have roots dating back 50 years.

Following visits she made to several bookstores, Rhett spent the last two years studying all the business and entrepreneurial information she needed to know to make the store a reality. She said she wanted to sell only children’s books because she and her family have been reading them ever since her three children, ages 10, 7 and 4, were born.

“To me it’s very important you have a book as an example to your kids,” she said.

Rhett’s children have helped out with everything from designing business cards to coming up with the name Sandcastle Tales during a family trip to Newport Beach. The books lined along the store’s shelves include classics like the works of Dr. Seuss to more contemporary selections, such as “Larry Gets Lost in San Diego” by John Skewes and Michael Mullin. Books about the ocean, nature, animals, art and the environment reflect some of the the many interests of the children in the local community, she said.

The store also offers multilingual story times, sand art, crafts, toys and candy. In addition, it hosts Spanish lessons, as well as other tutoring services by appointment. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Independent bookstores have experienced a bit of a resurgence throughout the country, following a period when major book chains went out of business and print media was in decline. As a new business owner in an expensive downtown beach hub, with local competition from larger companies like Geppetto’s, Rhett said she knows there will be challenges ahead. But she said she’s determined to continue “trying to do everything to give back to the community.”

“As long as I’m here, I want this to be a magic place that kids remember,” she said.

Sandcastle Tales is located at 1414 Camino del Mar, Del Mar, 92014. Phone: (858) 777-2086, Visit