Spotlight: Hi Desert Book Oasis in Hesperia, CA

Book lovers know a great used bookstore when they walk in. The smell of aged paper is intoxicating. Racks of books, comfortable chairs and coffee are so refreshing in a go-go-go world. That is what you will find at Hi Desert Book Oasis in Hesperia, CA.

Owner Lou Grantt, originally opened the shop in Lucerne in 2008. “I was retired and didn’t like it,” Lou explained to me recently. “I had a ton of books at home.” The fit was natural. For many years she was a script consultant in Hollywood and produced an industry magazine for scriptwriters. After 9/11, things changed so drastically that she had to close the magazine down. She and husband Bob, a corporate puppeteer, eventually decided to fulfill their dream of moving to wide open spaces of the high desert. After a few years they landed in Lucerne and love the small, friendly community. “It’s like Mayberry. Neighbors say hi, they ask after you,” she told me.

People came from all over to visit Hi Desert Book Oasis, but Lou realized that the loyal traffic she got simply couldn’t support the store. Though she hated the thought of leaving another empty commercial space in the town she and her husband have grown to love, she knew that a more prominent location would bring the joy of books to more people. Janette Wehrmann of Coldwell Banker Real Estate helped her find the right location. After visiting a number of places in the early fall of 2010, they found the perfect location in the Pueblo building at the corner of Jacaranda and Bear Valley Road, right across from Victor Valley College. “Everything has worked out really well,” said Lou. They have been open since late November 2010.

The store is about 1000 square feet, with the kids corner and fiction in the front room, and nonfiction in back room. There is also a sitting area and a piano that customers can play. It is cozy but not cramped, with wide aisles. “We offer a coffee bar,” Lou explained. “There are greeting cards, a place to sit and drink coffee and read a book. Along with the piano we have a record player with records to play. There are chess and checkers sets too.” Everyone who comes through the door gets greeted and helped and Lou and her staff have decorated and made it a welcoming and comfy place to relax. She also is planning to have regular book signings for local authors and story time for children.

As the store grows, more people are donating books, which the staff is busy cataloguing and shelving. (You can use store credit earned by donating books to pay for up to 40% of your book purchase! They do have a handout to explain the book donation standards.) If you are used to getting your books at, say, Barnes and Noble, you will find that prices at Hi Desert Book Oasis are much more reasonable. They have books by many bestsellers, including James Patterson, Stephen King, Janet Evanovich (my personal fave!), John Grisham, James, Michener, and Danielle Steele. You can also find older titles that you won’t find on the shelves any more at national chain stores. There are also rare and out of print books and if they don’t have it in stock, they can usually help you find.

Although she was sure how a used bookstore could do to improve the economy, Lou is a strong supporter of locally-owned businesses. The China House in Lucerne is one of their favorite restaurants and since they were located right next to each other in the early days, they have referred a lot of business back and forth. Lou also loves Starlight Video in the Lucerne Valley shopping center, who has just expanded into a secondhand store. (You can see one of the treasures she found there hanging over the piano in the back room.) Stallone’s Pizzeria in Lucerne “makes really great pizza,” according to Lou. And her new neighbors have been really welcoming and helpful. “I go to Mad Hackers across the courtyard for pedicures,” Lou shared. “And Don over at DB Music and Sound was a big help when I needed a piano tuner. He recommended a piano player for the grand opening as well.”

As the overall economy improves, Lou hopes that more people will feel comfortable buying books again. When compared to paying your electric or gas bill, it might seem like a luxury, but as book lovers know, it is so much more. And with a great used bookstore now in our midst, it’s definitely a more affordable luxury. I know I’ve finished the books I bought during my visit, so I’ll be heading back soon for more!

If you would like to see your locally-owned business highlighted on this blog, please contact Alyssa Penman by email at AlyssaPenman {at} RelyLocal {dot} com or call her at 760-246-5400. RelyLocal.com is a locally-owned business that connects local consumers to local businesses for a thriving, robust and vibrant local economy.

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