My Economy

A Los Angeles bookstore owner on reinventing her small business during the pandemic

Daisy Palacios Oct 12, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Celene Navarrete, left, and Chiara Arroyo, owners of LA Librería in Los Angeles. Sergio López Valero/Courtesy of Celene Navarrete
My Economy

A Los Angeles bookstore owner on reinventing her small business during the pandemic

Daisy Palacios Oct 12, 2020
Celene Navarrete, left, and Chiara Arroyo, owners of LA Librería in Los Angeles. Sergio López Valero/Courtesy of Celene Navarrete
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My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

Celene Navarrete first met her business partner Chiara Arroyo at a book fair for their children’s school.

“Chiara is from Spain and I’m from Mexico, and our children go to a bilingual program here in Los Angeles,” said Navarrete.

They both expected to find many books in Spanish at the book fair.

“But that was not the case. And it was very disappointing for us,” she recalls. “So, we decided to take action.”

That is when LA Librería, a Los Angeles bookstore that specializes in imported children’s books from Spanish-speaking nations around the world, was born. Navarrete and Arroyo travel to Latin American countries and Spain to find authentic Spanish-language children’s books. They carefully select books that resonate with kids and young adults in the United States and bring them back to stock their shelves.

“LA Librería is more than a bookstore,” said Navarrete. “It is a cultural hub, where people connect with other families that are raising bilingual children.”

Prior to the pandemic, they would host events at the store and bring some of their books to book fairs in different schools. But all of that has changed. Their storefront has been closed since March, and they have not been able to attend any in-person book fairs.

“We have to reinvent the way we work with our community, with our customers,” said Navarrete. “People that come to this store are looking for the in-person experience, the same thing for the people that buy a book from us from the book fairs. So, this has been very, very challenging.”

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COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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