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Tribute to A Different Light Bookstore

It’s mostly empty shelves and the books that are left are marked down to 60 percent off. That was the scene at A Different Light Bookstore the other night when I walked in for one final look around. It will be closing it’s doors any day now, the victim of the recession and rising rents along Santa Monica Boulevard.

bookstoreIt is such a loss to the neighborhood and to the city of West Hollywood.

I asked an employee behind the desk if the re-opening of Mickey’s next month could have saved them. Not even that will he said. Rent was being raised from $8,000 a month to $12,000 and business just wasn’t strong enough to sustain that. They had looked into moving into a smaller space several doors down but the rent there was also too high.

There is a new article on the situation on Santa Monica Boulevard in the new issue of Frontiers IN LA by Christopher Lisotta that sheds light on what is going on.

Here’s an excerpt:

Although Santa Monica Boulevard between Fairfax Avenue and Doheny Drive is hardly a ghost town, even a casual glance proves that businesses large and small have shuttered, leaving behind empty storefronts and “For Lease” signs in the windows. Anyone with an investment account or even access to cable news knows the predominantly LGBT-themed commercial district is unlikely to be immune to a national downturn that could eventually be rivaled only by the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Opening a small retail business has never been easy, particularly in a high-rent city like West Hollywood, but the current market conditions have made life more difficult than usual, according to Sharon H. Sandow, the president/CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. “This is far more intense than the ‘business as usual’ situation where a business arrives, is the ‘hot spot’ for a while, and then departs,” Sandow states via e-mail. “This is a time when long-term fixtures in the community cannot make ends meet and are shutting their doors. This is a significant hardship period.”

Just ask Billy Avarathar-Hatifeld, the manager at A Different Light. On the last Saturday in February, Avarathar-Hatfield oversaw the store as a host of customers snapped up rock-bottom clearance items as part of the bookstore’s liquidation of merchandise. ADL’s decline was long and slow, starting with the sidewalk closures of 2001 and exacerbated by the fire at next-door neighbor Micky’s, a popular dance spot, Avarathat-Hatfiled argued. The more recent demolition and rebuilding of supermarket Pavilions added to the woes.

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FILE UNDER: West Hollywood

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