Historic Hollywood Bookstore Launches GoFundMe To Stay Alive During Covid Shutdown

Larry Edmunds Bookshop sign, 2018, on the Hollywood Boulevard set of Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood." (Photo by Alison Martino, used with permission)

On the corner of Cherokee Avenue on Hollywood Boulevard, in the heart of the moviemaking capital of the world, sits an 82-year-old bookshop that has attracted film lovers, memorabilia collectors and aspiring moviemakers for decades. The historic Larry Edmunds Bookshop specializes can even be seen on the silver screen in films like 'Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.'

But in the wake of coronavirus, the owner, Jeffrey Mantor, is worried his shop won't survive. Two days ago, he started a GoFundMe to raise support from the community. It's already topped $26,000 dollars but that might not be enough.

The shop closed nearly a month ago when Los Angeles ordered all non-essential businesses to close. Now their only income is from books patrons order online, that Mantor wraps and sends himself.

Altough the small patronage is better than nothing, Mantor says "it is not enough to keep the store going. We are not meeting our basic operating expenses and I'm worried we won't be able to hang on."

Mantor has owned the shop for over 13 years and he's worked there for nearly three decades. During that time, the bookshop became a Hollywood boulevard staple — the go-to spot to see and buy vintage scripts and posters as well as host book signings and special screenings.

"It is a bookshop where you could watch "I Dream of Jeannie" with Barbara Eden, "Laverne & Shirley" with Cindy Williams, "Gilligan's Island" with Dawn Wells or "The Dick Van Dyke Show" with Carl Reiner and get a personally inscribed copy of their books too," writes Mantor, on the shop's website.

"I am not comfortable asking for charity and have resisted making this request," Mantor wrote on the GoFundMe page, "but I cannot sit by and watch the 82-year-old bookshop that I love so much disappear through no fault of its own without making every effort to save it."

Larry Edmund's has been a historical L.A. institution in Hollywood since the early 1900's, this is what it looked like in 1969 (photo courtesy Larry Edmund's)

A BRIEF HISTORY OF BOOKSELLERS ROW

Before it was the movie-making capital of the world, Hollywood was home to booksellers row. The bookshops migrated out of downtown and into the then burgeoning Hollywood in the early 1900s.

"Hollywood Boulevard is the Fifth Avenue of the West," Esotouric Tour's Richard Schave told Take Two's A Martinez, "and in its heyday, you could spend all day going in and out of book shops, Pickwick books, Hollywood books, Stanley roses bookshop, and Larry Edmunds bookshop."

According to Schave, the roots of today's Larry Edmunds shop go back to Stanley Rose, who opened the shop in the 1930s right next door to Musso and Frank Grill. As a bookseller, Rose made a point to champion some now famous but then up-and-coming writers like Nathaniel West and Raymond Chandler. But in 1939 he gave it all up and retired.

That's when Rose's partner Larry Edmunds took over, moved the shop and reinvented it as the Larry Edmunds Bookshop. Tragically Edmund's tenure came to an end just a few years later when he took his own life.

That's when Milt Luboviski, one of Edmund's employees, took over as co-owner, along with his wife Git Luboviski.

"They just have this huge backroom and Git, the wife, decides, I think that there's a market for cinema memorabilia," Schave said, "And so she starts to create this catalog of Motion Picture memorabilia and it's very popular. And about the same time, the writer Larry McMurtry walks in the store and says, to Milt, 'I want to buy all your first edition fiction books. And he does and Larry Edmunds at that point becomes just a cinema-only shop."

That's when Larry Edmunds became the cultural staple on Hollywood Boulevard that it is today.

"We're looking forward to getting the doors open and, you know, starting to see what we can do event-wise," said Mantor, the current owner of the shop. "We're an 82-year-old business. And we've served the film community for a lot of years here...and so I remain optimistic even in the face of our circumstances that we're going to figure out a way."

In his letter to the public to save the shop, Mantor expanded on this idea, "Here's hoping we will stick around so that some other 15-year-old cinephile can come here to find the resources to learn and study about their favorite films, actors and directors and get those 'how to' books so they can be inspired to tell their own stories and share them with the world."

If you feel so inclined, you can find more information on how to help the Larry Edmunds Bookshop, here.

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