After four decades as Los Angeles' unofficial spiritual/metaphysical hub, the Bodhi Tree Bookstore closed its doors at 5:30 p.m. this past New Years' Eve.
Co-owner and co-founder Stan Madson, in a red beret, shook hands and accepted thanks from customers old and new, celebrities and non-celebs, authors and readers, believers and doubters alike. People hugged him and confessed that the Bodhi Tree was the first bookstore they ever connected with. They'd miss it, they said. They'd miss the books and camaraderie and incense and free herbal tea.
Then they got in line -- a huge line that snaked around the entire store -- to buy books for 90% off.
The Bodhi Tree's official exit date is January 28. That's the day when everything -- fixtures, furnishings, leftover books -- has to be out of the building.
"It's strange to see all the books gone," said Madson. "But it also has a cleansing effect. It feels lighter. My responsibility is decreasing."
Madson and business partner Phil Thompson owned the property for the duration of their time in operation. They sold it last January. Towards the end, they took out a two-month lease on the space to wrap things up -- at a whopping $20,000 a month. Spaces in the area typically rent for $4-$5 per square foot. "And we're 6,500 square feet," says Madson.
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It is the end of this specific incarnation of the Bodhi Tree. But it is not the end of Bodhi Tree as an entity. There will be a new store (also in West Hollywood), with new owners and the same name. Madson and Thompson will consult. "They're keeping the shelves," says Madson. "And the pictures of the gurus."
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