Mon. Jun 5th, 2023

Have you always been into books?

I’ve always loved to read. My dad is a librarian, so books have always been a big part of my world. I worked at Midnight Special, Espresso Mi Cultura and Premiere Aztlan [bookstores].

When did you open the store?

Initially we were a small incubator, about 300 square feet, by USC at Mercado La Paloma, a project by the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation. I had three or four bookcases and was there for two years before I moved to Eagle Rock in 2003.

Describe your shop.

It’s definitely a Chicano/Latino bookstore, but embraces a lot of things—the Black Panthers, genocide in Africa—and my customers are Latino, Filipino, African-American and white, so it’s good.

What do you sell?

We have a really great selection of kids’, bilingual, and political books, Latin American writing and books by Latinos from the United States. We feature Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Winston Churchill, Noam Chomsky, and Mumia Abu-Jamal; biographies on Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and Grandmaster Flash; and carry the Nahuatl dictionary. We showcase three jewelry designers: Sergio Flores from Mexico, Lisa Rocha, who does the Day of the Dead pieces, and Monica Hernandez. I work with a lot of local artists from Self Help Graphics and change the art gallery every four to six weeks.

How has the economy affected you?

It’s been worrisome, but a bookstore isn’t a huge money-making venture—unless you’re Amazon—so I’m used to it being challenging. Book signings and art openings help because all our events are free. People are trapped in the store for three hours and will buy something.

Elisa Garcia-Rodriguez, 35 Chicana bookstore owner and mother of three, Elisa Garcia educates her community and children with multicultural books bent on history and politics.