Today we’d like to introduce you to Josh Spencer, the founder of one of our FAVORITE spots in DTLA.
Hi Josh, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I started selling books online in the late 90s just to pay the bills when I couldn’t get hired as a disabled person. I did that until 2009 when a friend convinced me to open up a brick and mortar bookstore as well. I started out with a small 1000 sq ft. location first and then a year and a half later in 2011 opened the giant 22,000 sq ft space The Last Bookstore is still in. In the past ten years, I also opened two other stores — one in Oregon which I sold, and one in Montrose called Lost Books which my wife runs. And I’m about to open another store called Skull-Face in Hawaii this fall!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Not at all! It has been a lot of hard work. I am a paraplegic, so there are many things the average person could do on their own that I have to hire people to do. So it costs me a lot more to do the same amount of work that an able-bodied person could do alone. In a sense, I pay to work instead of getting paid to work. But I have learned to create systems that allow me to work very fast in other ways so the end result is profitable for me. And thankfully, I love the end result — warehouses full of books that I get to curate for the stores I create for people to enjoy.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I think what sets us apart from other bookstores and businesses, in general, is that the Last Bookstore is an experience. It’s a feast for the senses and the mind alike. Whether you are a mathematician or a punk rock anarchist or a knitting grandmother or a 5 yr old kid or an immigrant from another country, there is enough to keep you busy for hours in our store. Even if you don’t read or listen to music or watch movies, there is still plenty to do and see there. For the past few years, we have really been specializing in the art of curating. Whether it’s the Curated Book Bundles, Curated Libraries for Homes or Corporate Clients, or our Curated Themed Displays throughout the store, we use our expertise to introduce new personalized discoveries and to perfect the spaces people live and play in. It’s that creative side, the picking of which books get into someone’s hands, that really thrills me.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
I agree with the dictionary: success means accomplishing what you set out to do. I’ve done that with the help of a great many other people, so I would say I’ve been most successful in collaboration with my wife, my dad, my mom, my sisters, and all of my co-workers.
- Website: lastbookstoreLA.com
- Instagram: @lastbookstorela
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lastbookstore/
- Twitter: @lastbookstorela
- Youtube: https://youtu.be/Kj0fo4aZmwo
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-last-bookstore-los-angeles