Century-Old Book Store Closes in San Pedro

The store survived two world wars, but has finally become a casualty of technology.

After 42 years among shelves of books, these days you'll find Jerry Gusha closing the books on Williams' Book Store -- a Los Angeles classic. Its final chapter: bankruptcy.

"I was almost born in the store," said Gusha as he rang up a customer with an old-fashioned, non-electronic cash register. "I started working here part time help when I was 13."

It is an end of an era for Gusha, his family and San Pedro. Williams' book store is expected to sell its final book at the end of August.

"My rent's paid until the end of the month," said Gusha. "After that, I don't know."

Williams' Book Store in San Pedro was established in 1909 and survived more than a century - including two world wars. But, in the end, it was technology that killed it, said Gusha.

"I've had a lot of people come in and say, 'Oh, I just love the smell of a book store,'" he said. "You don't get that with electronic things."

The store is located on Sixth Street in historic Downtown San Pedro, where you won't find any chains or big name stores.

"It's always been right here in San Pedro. These are really the only two blocks that are left," said Robert Torquato, a long-time San Pedro resident.

But San Pedro, in all its maritime glory, has been going through a transformation of sorts. Modern high-rise condos stand tall, right next to historic downtown. Despite that, the town has managed to hold onto its charm and history, said Gusha.

"That's one of the things that have kept us going the last few years, is selling the local history books," he said, fighting back tears.

"It's just the local history - sorry, I just get a little emotional," he said, walking away.

His store is closing, but he says he finds comfort in knowing he helped create the memories the people of San Pedro will hold onto for years to come.

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