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