40-Year-Old Bookstore Forced to Close When Sales Sink

A small bookstore had to close after years of serving local readers in Arcadia due to financial challenges.

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In Arcadia, a small bookstore has been providing books to the community for nearly forty years. Book Rack was a local business that became a staple for readers in the area, but after the pandemic and the growth of online sales like Amazon, Book Rack couldn’t keep up with the demand for instant products that online services could provide. Despite the effort of the owners, Book Rack had to close from the financial strain. Here’s the story of a local bookstore with caring owners that kept it going for decades.

The Origin of Book Rack

Pat Carlson started Book Rack and managed it for around twenty years, while it was originally located on Baldwin Avenue. During the early years, Karen Kropp began working as a clerk organizing books. When Carlson passed away Kropp had an opportunity to buy the store and continue its legacy. For about $100,000 Kropp took on ownership of the store, where it became her passion.

Interior of local bookstore with view outside.

In its prime, Kropp hired local high schoolers to work the store, and she’d be there for ten hours a day assisting and selling books. They could make nearly $10,000 in sales a month, and Kropp loved helping the community. Owning the bookstore was a job, but it was also something Kropp adored. Unfortunately, it didn’t last forever.

The Financial Challenges

Kropp managed Book Rack for another twenty years after buying it from Carlson. The local business had two incredibly caring owners. But as times changed, the bookstore couldn’t keep up. Services like Amazon provide same-day delivery, and speedy purchase times like that are too difficult for small stores to keep up with.

“Everybody wants it now,” she said. “And I can’t do that.”

She poured her heart into Arcadia’s Book Rack. Now the small bookstore is closing, Los Angeles Times

Competing services already caused sales to dip. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, it was even more difficult for Kropp to manage the store. Sales trickled down to nearly nothing, and it was impossible for her to manage bills. But Kropp still adored the store and the community of readers that came from it. She even cashed out on her life insurance policy to get the funds to make ends meet.

With the growing financial hurdles, Kropp realized that the bookstore didn’t bring her the joy it used to. While she still loved serving her community, maintaining the bookstore just wasn’t something she was able to do anymore.

The Closing Chapter of Book Rack

Kropp made the decision to close up shop. February 28th, 2024, is the official closing date. With the closing of the store, the community came around to comfort Kropp and show her how much she helped Arcadia and impacted readers.

A local artist painted a picture of the storefront and gifted it to her, and customers returned to reminisce on the good experiences they had. Kropp’s time with the store may be done, but her impact on the community won’t be forgotten. While small local bookstores may be struggling against big corporations and online stores, local bookstores can still make a difference.

If there are small bookstores near you, remember to support those local businesses so they can continue to create communities of readers.

If you want to stay updated on bookstore closures, check out this article covering other closures.

If you don’t have a local bookstore to turn to for reading recommendations, check out these recommendations from the Bookstr team on Bookshop.