San Fernando Valley

Portrait of a Bookstore to close on Tujunga Avenue

aroma-cafe-bookstore.jpgAfter 26 years, the last 14 located inside Aroma Cafe in Studio City, the owners of Portrait of a Bookstore have decided to close on May 17. "Gracefully retiring," they said in in a note posted on the store's website. "In the words of Orson Welles, 'If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.' This is our happy ending." They have sought since to soothe the grieving.

Some of you are so sad it makes us want to take it all back! Some of you are also pretty confused and furious. The rest of you are loving this maniac of a sale. The bookstore is retiring for the same reasons that humans retire. Which makes sense, I guess, since it’s owned and operated by humans, who have decided to retire. We want to make the next month or so a celebration and not a mourning, but those of you who manage to relay, between gulps of air, while weeping into my neck, how deeply sad you are… well, there isn’t anything adequate to say, except to continue hugging you. Yes, this was the only independent bookstore around for many miles, and yes it was a truly magical place and though it was irreplaceable, you mustn’t ever forget that where there is great need, it will always be met in one way or another. Don’t lose hope now, don’t give in just yet and forgo a longer drive in favor of clicking a button. Hold on just a little longer.

In the announcement, they gave a little history of the store.

On May 17, 1986, Julie and Frank von Zerneck, along with their children Danielle and Frank, Jr., gave birth to this bookstore, which grew to be a haven, a home-away-from-home, for so many members of this community. One of the smallest bookstores in the world, “small but mighty,” as we’ve always been called, our selection of books was impeccably curated, worthy of the praise of any astute bibliophile. Our gift shelves were always laden with the best greeting cards in town, beautiful toys, jewelry, gifts for the home, gifts for readers and writers, gifts for the heart and soul, even gifts for people who had no more use for gifts. Each of these was chosen with the utmost care, with our beloved customers’ tastes and needs in mind. “Everyone who walks in through that door is a guest in our home,” has, for all these years, been Julie’s mantra. And, indeed, this was our home and you have been our family.

Half off on everything, they say. Carolyn Kellogg did a nice profile of the store in the LA Times last year and reported on the closure earlier this week.

Photo: Portrait of a Bookstore


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