Latitude 33 bookstore to close

Latitude 33 has announced that after an unsuccessful attempt to find a buyer for the 15-year-old bookstore, it will close its doors later this summer.

Owner Tom Ahern, 69, told the Coastline Pilot in April that he intended to leave the business to take care his wife, who is facing health issues.

"I'm hoping that someone or group of individuals will feel strongly enough that we need a good bookstore in Laguna Beach and say, 'Yes, lets buy them out,'" he said at the time.

Ahern has met with 17 interested parties for the last couple months, he said, and nothing came of it.

"When it came down to it people said, 'Gee, my pockets aren't deep enough to withstand the financial downturn, or I don't want to take a risk'," he said about the buyers.

Ahern admits that a bookstore isn't going to make you rich, but he hoped that someone would come in that would understand the importance of small businesses in a town like Laguna.

"I've told people I consider it the retail version of a gentleman's farm," he said. "You don't expect to make money on a farm. You expect to enjoy living on a farm."

Formerly the Readers Bookshop, Ahern bought the store in 1996 and moved it downtown to 311 Ocean Ave.

Although they've prepared for either a change of ownership or a closure, Ahern said he never stopped supply. Latitude 33's selection is still packed with new titles.

Ahern is planning a going-out-of-business sale with books at 20% off. He doesn't know an exact date for the closure but said it will be before Labor Day.

A Newport Beach resident, Ahern plans to volunteer at the Newport Beach Public Library upon retirement.

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