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Williams' Book Store in San Pedro closes after 104 years in business

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After 104 years in business, San Pedro's Williams' Book Store — the oldest operating bookstore in the city of L.A. — is closing.

After 104 years in business, San Pedro's Williams' Book Store — the oldest operating bookstore in the city of L.A. — is closing.

The store has survived two world wars, recessions, and the expansion of big box book stores, but in the past few years, it's found it increasingly difficult to pay the rent.

Several months ago the wholesale book supplier cut the store's credit limit. Williams' Book Store owner Gerry Gusha says the wholesalers have become more strict as business from Amazon and major stores have come on the market.

The store was originally started by Welsh immigrant E.T. Williams, who lived in nearby Bell. He opened the shop in 1909 and one of his two daughters took it over after him. Gusha's family bought the store from her in 1980. 

The Williams' bookstore has always served as a general bookstore for the community and in the recent years became known for  featuring local authors.

Gusha has worked here full-time for 42 years, and it's the only full-time job he's ever known.  But he’s seen this coming for a long time. In fact, he says he wishes he’d closed down even earlier:

“I’d be $50,000 less in debt,” he said.

He even bought an extensive comic book collection, but they didn’t sell. He even offered to buy customers books after they’d found them on Amazon. People have offered to pay to keep it open, but the answer’s always the same.

“We’re so far in debt and I didn’t want to borrow money from anyone and not be able to pay them back – that’d be stupid,” said Gusha. 

Instead, he's declaring bankruptcy.

The Williams' book store closes at the end of the month. 

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