Local Landmark: The Last Bookstore
Sitting on the corner of Spring Street and W 5th Street is The Last Bookstore, named California’s largest seller of new, used, and rare books. This local landmark was the original home of Citizens National Bank, a historic bank, opened in 1914. In 1963, it became Crocker-Citizens Bank after it merged with another financial institution. It was acquired in by Wells Fargo in the 1980s. Currently, it is the home and the third incarnation of The Last Bookstore.
Founded by owner Josh Spencer in 2005, the first incarnation of The Last Bookstore was an apartment loft, which moved to a small retail space in 2009. The final move was on June 3, 2011, to the Spring Arts Tower.
The 22,000 sq foot historic location complete with giant pillars, hanging chandeliers, and bank vaults, houses about a quarter million books, a vast collection of vinyl records, along with popular art installations seen throughout social media, specifically Instagram. Crowd favorites include the book tunnel, the book window, and a Hogwarts-like display of flying books and floating manuscripts atop the second-floor landing.
You will find the Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore—their collection of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, True Crime, Travel, Horror, Graphic Novels, Gather Yarn Shop, and the Spring Arts Collective gallery shop on the second floor of the bookstore. It is absolutely bibliophiles’ dream space!
The Last Bookstore was ironically named by owner Josh at a time when ebooks and Amazon where on the rise and bookstores were closing around the country. During the pandemic, this iconic bookstore saw an 80% decrease in sales. By offering curated book selections and curbside pick-up, Josh was able to keep the bookstore alive and thriving.
Josh is no stranger to adversity and overcoming challenges. At the age of 21, while riding a moped with a friend, he was hit by a car. The accident left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Being a young man who loved the outdoors and enjoyed physical activity—volleyball, surfing. He had to come to terms with his new normal. His childhood love of books helped him view the world through a different lens.
“I’ve trained my brain, over the years, in how to deal with my disability,” says Josh. “Learning to deal with challenges in business is the same thing. With every little frustration, I’ve tried to figure out a positive way to spin it into something interesting or fun. Even now.”
In June 2021, he and his wife Jenna Spencer opened a sister location, Lost Books, in Montrose. Their goal was to keep the same style and vibe as The Last Bookstore—with one slight difference, there’s more greenery at this location. The Last Bookstore receives book donations and deliveries daily. Opening their sister location was a response to the overflow of books they were receiving.
For more information, visit their website.