In 1931, Paul Elder Jr. began working in his father’s bookstore. He gradually assumed management roles as his father’s health declined, becoming president and manager in 1943. Paul Jr. was joined in the business by his wife Eloise (1909-1973). She was a former artist and coordinated the continuing series of book readings and art exhibits.
On 1 June 1948, four months after the death of its founder, Paul Elder & Company made its final move to the southwest corner of Sutter & Stockton. Paul Jr and Eloise were clearly putting their stamp on the 50-year-old business.
The new bookstore was a marked departure from the previous shops, where atmosphere had been the overriding concern. Here architect Bolton White created a modern, open design, using extensive street-front windows and a bright–one might even say gaudy–color scheme.
As happened in 1909 and 1920, some furnishings were brought along from the old stores. Bernard Maybeck’s carved screens from the 1909 store were installed at the base of the stairway, and gothic windows from the 1920 store were installed on the wall above.
In October 1968, Paul Elder Jr sold the two remaining bookstores to Brentano’s. “My wife Eloise and I have been working too hard, too long,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. He decided to sell “because of an accumulation of things: the field is overcrowded, the competition is tremendous… automation calls for big-business organization.” He wouldn’t say what he had in mind, but “it won’t be another bookstore. But I’ll be enjoying myself. I always do.”