The Last Bookstore: Sales are down 80% but owners and customers stay optimistic

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“I just sort boxes of books. It’s like Christmas every day. I never know what I’m going to get. Everyday I learn something new and find books I’d never seen before. So it's really the best kind of job for someone with my personality,” says Josh Spencer, co-owner of The Last Bookstore. Photo by Jackie Sedley.

Before COVID-19, The Last Bookstore on Spring Street near Pershing Square was packed with tourists and locals each day. However, over the past several months, co-owners Josh Spencer and his wife Jenna nearly ran out of money, had to lay off most of their staff, and closed their store.

Instead of getting discouraged, they started looking at the pandemic as a creative opportunity. They began offering curated book bundles based on customers’ interests, conducting more online sales, and renting out their store for weddings and other small events.

They’re now back open for in-person shopping — at the limited capacity and with mask requirements. 


Customers are now able to shop and read inside The Last Bookstore, but they must wear masks and maintain social distancing. Photo by Jackie Sedley. 

Spencer admits that the shop is overall losing money and is racking up more debt. “Our sales are down 80%. So I don't want to downplay the direness of the situation. I'm just someone who, whenever anything negative or challenging comes my way, I tend to take it in a positive spirit.”

He doesn’t know if the shop will make it through the pandemic. But he’s made his peace with that.

“Even if The Last Bookstore does fail, it's okay with me. I mean, it's been an awesome 10 years. And I'm glad that people enjoyed it. And I'm proud of what we created. Even if we can't make it through this, I'll know that we did our best, and that's good enough for me. I don't think everything has to last forever,” he says.

Credits

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Jenna Kagel

Reporter:
Jackie Sedley