Mahri Kerley is the founder of the much-beloved Chaucer’s Bookstore and a long time community arts patron in Santa Barbara. A native of Canada, Kerley lived in the Bay Area before moving to New York and eventually settling in Santa Barbara. She opened Chaucer’s in 1974 and has been in its current location at Loreto Plaza on upper State Street since 1983. Even with the threat of major competitors, Chaucer’s has remained Santa Barbara’s most popular independent bookstore. Chaucer’s gives back to the community by hosting book fairs and author readings, two major store-wide sales, and keeps a long-standing discount for teachers. Kerley’s store has endured with a spirit of offering thoughtful and knowledgeable customer service that in turn has created a loyal following.
Kerley is also a generous supporter of UCSB Arts and Lectures, CAMA, Music Academy of the West, and Camerata Pacifica. Kerley was an SB Chamber Orchestra patron for more than 20 years and was appointed to their board in 2009. That same year she was recognized as part of Santa Barbara Independent’s Local Heroes. In 2016, she was honored alongside other SB icons by the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation which recognizes business visions that uniquely capture and redefine the spirit of Santa Barbara.