Sadness in the streets! The Bodhi Tree, one of the best bookstores, period, and THEE very best New Age and Spirituality bookstore anywhere on the planet is closing. Although in recent years I’ve not gone there nearly as much as I used to, in the mid-90s, I went to the Bodhi Tree every single Saturday morning without fail and poured over the shelves of the used books annex. There I found Leary first editions, tons of rare Crowley and even signed firsts of Terence McKenna’s The Invisible Landscape and True Hallucinations. I’d comb through this store sometimes twice a week. For book hounds into the occult and weirdo culture in general, the Bodhi Tree was like an intellectual candy shop. I felt great pride to see my own books and DVDs for sale there. But sadly, those days have passed. With Amazon and Barnes & Noble taking massive bites out of the profits of niche booksellers—Shirley MacLaine probably shops on Amazon—it’s hard to run a business on fumes. Even storied operations like the Bodhi Tree, in the end have their life cycles. I wonder what it will reincarnate as?
From the LA Weekly:
Owners Phil Thompson and Stan Madson informed their staff last Wednesday that the cozy Melrose Avenue shop, a nationally renowned and much beloved spiritual center, will be shutting its doors in a year’s time.
After some eight months of discussion, Thompson and Madson decided to sell the property to a local business owner who leases space to several other nearby retailers. The Bodhi Tree opened in 1970. Land values in the area have risen dramatically since then. Meanwhile, the business of selling print books has been on a steady decline. For years, real estate agents had been circling the Bodhi Tree like vultures. In the end, selling the property became a much more profitable option than continuing to sell books.
Thompson and Madson started the bookstore when they were in their 30’s. They are now both in their early 70’s. They were aerospace engineers who left a life of science for one of contemplation and meditation.
“Twenty years ago we felt like it was an expanding situation,” says Madson. “We were concerned the store was getting too big. We had a staff of 100. Publishing was expanding. Spirituality was expanding. But what changed was that the market became widely dispersed.”