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The Short Version: The Last Bookstore opened in 2005 and has become a cherished literary hotspot in Los Angeles. Though it may seem old-fashioned, the 22,000-square-foot space has been bookmarked by many die-hard readers as a fantastical place for date nights, birthday parties, and wedding celebrations. Whether couples are trying to get on the same page on a first date or embarking on a new chapter in their relationship, The Last Bookstore helps them set the scene for romance and add happy memories to their life story.
The Last Bookstore started as the solo enterprise of Josh Spencer in 2005. Its name is a tongue-and-cheek reference to the dwindling reign of brick-and-mortar bookstores in the digital age. By occupying a large and eclectic space in downtown Los Angeles, Josh hoped to breathe new life into the industry — even as giants like Borders and Waldenbooks closed up shop.
Josh’s novel approach to buy, sell, and trade new and used books quickly took off, and he amassed a labyrinthian library that captured the imaginations of readers of all ages and interests.
Today, Josh and his wife Jenna own and run California’s largest used bookstore. The store boasts having over 500,000 collectible and used books as well as thousands of new releases and bestsellers. The staff members are well-read and happy to make a recommendation if needed.
“The heartbeat of the bookstore is the incredibly knowledgeable and talented booksellers,” Jenna said. “The team works tirelessly in-store and behind the scenes to get books in customers’ hands they’ll enjoy.”
The Last Bookstore takes up 22,000 square feet and two stories in the Spring Arts Tower. It is famous for featuring wall-to-wall books and a tremendously impressive book arch. The extensive inventory also includes over 10,000 old-school vinyl records, CDs, and DVDs.
In 2020, The Last Bookstore had to restructure to stay within local health and safety guidelines. It is currently open for in-store shopping at 20% capacity. The Buy Counter has been temporarily closed since July. Customers must make an appointment to sell their used records. Josh and Jenna gladly accept book donations through Rebookit, a free pickup service.
Fortunately, The Last Bookstore has long prepared for the end days, and its team has found inventive ways to keep the lights on and the books flying off the shelves. Readers everywhere can browse the online store to find new books to keep them occupied during lockdowns and quarantines. Plus, the physical store is open for events, so local couples can plan a socially distanced date, celebration, or wedding at The Last Bookstore.
The Last Bookstore has shelves full of enriching content that can get people talking about their favorite authors and sharing stories that matter to them. As a low-key date spot, The Last Bookstore can offer tens of thousands of conversation starters to keep a couple occupied.
“This is the neverending store. When I thought I’d wandered through it all, I would find yet another hidden treasure,” said Kimberly G. in a Facebook review. “I could spend days in this store and never be bored.”
Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Last Bookstore remains a popular place for the city’s avid readers to get away from it all and explore topics that interest them. The store’s many reading nooks are perfect for study buddies, friends, and couples seeking a quiet hangout.
“People are constantly saying how The Last Bookstore is a home away from home,” Jenna said. “It may be the first place a friend brought them when they visited or where they had their first kiss in the tunnel.”
Even if she’s a little bit fantasy and he’s a little bit sci-fi, couples can come together at The Last Bookstore and find common ground in their shared enthusiasm for the written word.
Recently, a local man surprised his girlfriend by renting the store after hours, creating a trail of rose petals to the candlelit bank vault on the ground level, and proposing. He serenaded his bride-to-be in total privacy, and then they used the rest of their hour at the bookstore for a photoshoot.
Hosting such special moments is not only good karma, it’s also good business.
“Josh and I are both entrepreneurs, so we see opportunity everywhere we look,” Jenna told us. “Filming, weddings, and private event bookings support us a great deal, so we are working on ways to maximize this category. We have an enormous space where social distancing is not an issue. We just need to be creative.”
The Last Bookstore is currently operating with a lean staff of 15 people in the store and warehouses — it had over 50 employees pre-COVID. However, Jenna said she is optimistic that the much-beloved bookstore will survive the pandemic and come out stronger on the other end.
Josh and Jenna dated for a few years when they were young (24 and 17, respectively) until life took them in different directions. Fortunately, they reconnected 20 years later and fell in love all over again. The couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary in early December.
Jenna said she is sympathetic to brides planning their big day in Los Angeles — which is especially challenging during a pandemic — and has worked hard to raise The Last Bookstore’s profile as a socially distanced wedding venue and event rental space. Couples can email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the wedding booking process.
“We hope to eliminate the stress so planning is relaxing and enjoyable,” Jenna said. “The best part about working with The Last Bookstore is our flexibility. We provide in-house planning, and every detail is covered.”
Wedding clients of all ages, backgrounds, and gender identities have found their happily-ever-after ending at The Last Bookstore. The spacious store has the capacity to host up to 200 guests during normal times, but during the pandemic, it has stuck to smaller private events.
The bookshelves are on wheels, so they can easily move around the store to create the perfect layout and decorative backdrop. Couples can transform the bookstore into a sparkling fairyland or a scene out of a gothic novel. It’s a great opportunity for book lovers to unite for a memorable event. The Last Bookstore even offers store gift cards as party favors.
In addition to weddings, The Last Bookstore can host birthday parties, rehearsal dinners, anniversary date nights, and other private events.
“The Last Bookstore is magical, mysterious, unique, out of the box, and romantic,” Jenna said. “Our venue is an experience you — or your guests — will never forget.”
When Josh started The Last Bookstore over 15 years ago, he was in the business for the long haul. He personally handles almost every book that goes into the inventory and makes sure there is something for everyone on the shelves.
Los Angeles bookworms can get out of the house and get on the same literary page with a potential partner by heading to The Last Bookstore for a socially distanced date. The sprawling space is fun to explore, and it can offer a new romance and adventure around every turn.
Whether you’re picking out a gift, spending time with a date, or getting married, The Last Bookstore can offer many memorable ways to show someone you care.
“There are so many stories that have made huge impressions on people and their lives,” Jenna said. “The community counts on us to provide a safe space where books and learning are always available. The hope is the impact continues.”