In the Crescenta Valley, two local independent bookstores held special events that drew people into their shops for a variety of reasons.
By Charly SHELTON
In honor of National Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, local bookstores Once Upon A Time and Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse opened their doors to invite the community in for some book-related fun and activities. The annual observance, celebrated in small, independent bookstores around the country, is an opportunity for local bookstores to host book signings and offer exclusive books and events.
“It was fantastic. It was a great and glorious day with lots of activities, lots of people and lots of kids and happy patrons celebrating independent bookstores,” said Maureen Palacios, owner of Once Upon A Time, the oldest children’s bookstore in the nation.
Throughout the day, Once Upon A Time had several authors and illustrators come in for various events with guests. Frans Vischer, author and illustrator of the “Fuddles” series of children’s books, did caricatures for any patrons of the store who bought any book, whether one of the 16 exclusive Independent Bookstore Day offerings or otherwise. Author Greg Neri spoke about and signed his book, “Tru and Nelle,” which details the friendship between Truman Capote and Harper Lee. But the most well received event was Ashlyn Anstee’s story time with her book, “No, No,
Gnome!” accompanied by singer Emily Arrow.
“Everyone got little gnome hats and it was fun,” Palacios said. “Some people had not been to our store before, so that was fun to introduce them to our particular kind of ambience. Folks like that. We had more than 50 people, maybe 75, [in attendance].”
In La Cañada, Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse considered the day a success too.
“It went really well. We were hoping to bring in new people and other members of the community who wanted to come in on a special day,” said Gail Mishkin with Flintridge Bookstore. “Our sales were definitely way up that day and I know that’s one of the things that the national observance hopes happens with all the participating bookstores.”
Events included a book drive led by a local Brownie troop, Lara Jo Regan signed her photography book, “Dogs in Cars,” and Anne Perry, author of 90 mystery novels with over 26 million copies sold, stopped by to sign copies of her many works including her two latest books just released.
In addition to Independent Bookstore Day, Flintridge Bookstore also celebrated National Pet First Aid Awareness Month with a pet first aid and CPCR (animal CPR) demonstration, as well as having several other animals make their way through the store during the day.
“We had a woman who came in with a beautiful collie, a therapy dog,” Mishkin said. “She goes around to libraries and her dog, Cedar, is available [to work with] smaller children or anyone who may be a little bit shy about reading. He sits there as this really fantastic and very patient audience. And, as matter of fact, what he was doing that day when people read to him for a little while … it actually lulled him to sleep.”
Of all the events held throughout the day at Flintridge Bookstore, Mishkin believes that the most impactful was the Brownie troop that was holding a book drive to benefit local schools.
“I think [all of the events] were successful on many levels but the presence of the Brownies doing something to give back to their community was really a huge success,” Mishkin said. “They donated somewhere around 75 books and people were coming in specifically to support that.”
Both Once Upon A Time and Flintridge Bookstore reported huge success for the day and they plan to take part in the event next year.
For more information on National Independent Bookstore Day, visit indiebookstoreday.com.For more information on National Independent Bookstore Day, visit indiebookstoreday.com.