Amazon and rising rents killed the old Bohemia of the Beach Cities, but the spirit of the old Santa Monica survives at Angel City Books.
BY MAX BELL FROM: TheLAnd
If you want to understand the ceaseless gentrification of Santa Monica, just walk down Main Street.
The friendly coexistence of local-run businesses and more moneyed establishments catering to tourists (and the north-of-Montana crowd) is no more. The tourists have become permanent residents: tech bros and yoga moms parking their electric scooters in the middle of the sidewalk while they wait in line for their organic cold brew.
Main Street’s once-famous surf shop, which was part of the Dogtown and Z-Boys lineage, is the coffee shop serving cold brew. The other surf/skate shop, ZJ’s Boarding House, is a corporate-partnered shell of its former self. It’s a miracle that the liquor stores haven’t (yet) been replaced by artisan cheese and wine shops. However, if you head south and turn left on Pier Ave., you will find Angel City Books and Records — a vestige of Santa Monica’s quickly eroding past, a respite from what has woefully been rebranded as Silicon Beach.
Since opening at 218 Pier Ave. in August of 1998, Angel City has survived Amazon and bookstores of every size and tax bracket in Santa Monica and on the Westside.
Several factors account for its two decades at the end of that short block just off Main St. (e.g., a significant break on rent), but none overshadow Rocco Ingala. Co-founder and longtime sole owner/operator of Angel City, the 65-year-old L.A. native stocks and arranges used books and records seven days a week in his customary suit of head-to-toe denim.
Today, despite physical and economic adversity, he perseveres. “Preserving these books and this music is a responsibility,” Ingala says from his desk chair behind the store counter. He speaks not with self-righteousness but a passion tempered by apprehension. “If it all goes away, I think we’re hurt as a society.” Read Rest of Article Here