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STYLE & CULTURE

Midnight Special Bookstore going; but where?

February 21, 2003|Renee Tawa | Times Staff Writer

Quirky Midnight Special Bookstore -- beloved for its community and progressive roots -- will leave its Santa Monica home on Monday for parts unknown.

In a recent e-mail to Midnight Special's supporters, owner Margie Ghiz said the independent bookstore does not have a new home but "we have made offers to several building owners and are hopeful." The stock will remain in storage until a deal is made, Ghiz said Thursday, adding that she is considering space in Santa Monica or Hollywood.

The 32-year-old store announced in July that it could not afford to remain in its 5,000-square-foot space at Third Street Promenade. For years, the store has been paying an under-market rent. This summer, the landlord said he could no longer cut the store a deal, and the full rent eventually would have to be paid -- more than doubling what the store has been paying. Midnight Special has continued to pay the lower rent while planning for the move.

In Ghiz's e-mail, she asked supporters to offer donations via the store's Web site, www.msbooks.com. "Wherever we move, our rent could at least double, and our expenses, at least initially, will be substantial," she wrote.

Midnight Special originally opened in Venice as part of a movement of independent bookstores and information centers inspired by the era of Vietnam War protests. At the time, it had a volunteer staff and catered to an alternative audience.

In recent years the audience has broadened, but Midnight Special still is known for its alternative persona, broadcast by huge window displays. Since the move was announced, Ghiz said in the e-mail, "I have been overwhelmed with comments and support." Midnight Special's last day of business will be Sunday.

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