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How an L.A. indie bookstore’s GoFundMe inspired a small business lifeline

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by Dorany Pineda at the Los Angeles Times

read on the Los Angeles Times' website

"On a Tuesday morning in September, Raymond Wurwand was in his Southern California home sipping tea and reading the newspaper when he happened upon a story about struggling independent bookstores. The print headline read: “Spine-tingling bookstore woes: Some shops, including Diesel, are turning to fundraising to survive. Shelve 2020 as horror.”

He turned to his wife, Jane Wurwand, and said: “We’ve got to do something.”

In partnership with Pacific Community Ventures and TMC Community Capital, the owners of skin-care company Dermalogica decided to launch Found/L.A. Small Business Recovery Fund, a $1-million grant program to help small minority-owned businesses in Los Angeles County stay open during the pandemic. Among the eligibility requirements: Applicants must own at least 50% of a brick-and-mortar shop, employ fewer than 20 people, and provide evidence of profitability before the pandemic. The Wurwands received 2,430 applications for the first round of grants — from restaurants, salons and cafes as well as gyms, retail stores and day-care centers. Ten were randomly selected. Applications for the second cycle open Jan. 11.

“We built Dermalogica through selling to small salons, so we built our business through selling to small entrepreneurs who have been devastated by COVID-19,” said Jane in a recent Zoom interview. “So as we read the piece, we realized that could’ve been our story, but we’ve been extremely fortunate. Our salons were exactly like Diesel,” she said. Diesel, a Bookstore, with locations in Del Mar and Brentwood, is one of many businesses that have made public pleas for support. “That’s who employs the neighborhood.”

The longtime philanthropists typically offer minority businesses micro-loans through their Wurwand Foundation, but Diesel’s pandemic struggle put into sharp focus the need for direct, no-strings assistance — some small businesses just can’t on any more debt.

Giving the Gift of Books

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Dear Reader,
The holiday season is upon us!   So, is the pandemic.  We still want to give gifts – the most personal gifts, the most appreciated gifts, the most considerate gifts, and the most value-rich gifts.  Buying locally and buying independently adds value – to the giver, the receiver, and the community. 

Books make great gifts.  Simply true.  This season, more than any other, there are unique challenges as to delivery times; publishers running out of stock; printers not able to keep up with the workload.  We are doing our best to get you the books you want, when you want them.  Please be ready for these delays; the unavailability of titles; and the restrictions on browsing.

We are currently open 10-5 daily for limited browsing.  We limit the number of people who can be in the store to 7 people. Browsing time is limited to 15 minutes and is best done by appointment. 

We are available for phone, email, and web ordering.  We have gift certificates (online & instore), ebooks and streaming audio.  If you have questions about anything please contact us. 

We are trying to maintain the friendly, accessible professionalism you have grown accustomed to.  We are as enthusiastic about your reading as we are of our own.  We are always glad to help you find that right book as a gift, or for your own enjoyment.

Take care of yourself this holiday season.  Stay strong, healthy & well-read!

And thank you so much for your sustaining support of our store, so that we can all read, and share our reading, for many years to come.

Gratefully,
Alison, John & all DIESELfolk

Thank You from DIESEL, A Bookstore

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Dear Reader,

We are thankful for the support that has been shown to the store in myriad ways.  Thankful, too, for still being able to allow people into the store.  We've been careful about the numbers of people in the store and are doing appointments to make things run smoother.

Please give us a call before coming in and we can schedule a 15 minute appointment for you.  This minimizes lines, saves you time, and gives you unharried time in the store.  Of course, DIESEL booksellers will be at the ready with able recommendations for best gifts and finding just the right books.  We are very good at that!

As with many businesses this season, we anticipate shortages on books and distribution delays.  This is why November is the new December, and it's best to get your shopping done early.  We are open 10-6 M-F, and 10-5 Saturday and Sunday.  We are ready, happy to wrap, and working to make the most of these difficult times!

Thanks for your support and encouragement.  We look forward to sharing the wide world of books with you, your family, and friends this season.  It is important to stay in touch with each other.  And books, and bookstores, are two time-honored ways to do just that. 

Gratefully,
Alison, John & all DIESELFolk

UPDATE: Help DIESEL, A Bookstore Keep Going ~ Johnny 99 Fund +more!

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Dear Reader,

Autumn has arrived!  What a year!

We want to express our gratitude for the overwhelmingly generous response to our GoFundMe campaign.  Begun two and a half weeks ago, we are now over a quarter of the way toward our goal. 

The notes, letters, comments and conversations have been so heartfelt, encouraging, and fortifying – buoying up our spirits.  As you know, we are trying to stay afloat, and the donations are helping that to happen.  We have learned that sharing our GoFundMe as widely as possible, raises awareness and prompts others to help.

In the store, CDC guidelines say we should only have about 7 people in the store at a time.  We know that it can be frustrating, and are grateful to those who thank us every day for respecting the health protocols.  We are open for browsing now, a couple people or a group at a time, for 15 minutes.  Feel free to give us a call to reserve your time. We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes and hope you understand the necessities.

You probably saw the LA Times piece last week, which kindly brought attention to our store’s situation.  This spurred more sharing of the news, and more contributions.  If you are willing to share the LA Times story or our campaign, with your lists, that would be greatly appreciated.  Here is a link to the LA Times article: Brentwood’s DIESEL launches a GoFundMe. This is the link to DIESEL's Go Fund Me.

Again, thanks for all of your support – whether through buying books, donations, or forwarding our story to people you know. 

We are planning to make it through all of this together. Please stay strong, healthy & well-read.

Gratefully,
Alison, John & all DIESELfolk

Independent Bookstore Day -- Saturday August 29th!

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Join us for Independent Bookstore Day, Saturday, August 29th, a celebration of local, independent bookstores and their communities. This year, bookstores are celebrating with online events. These online events range from discussions with authors, to drawing classes, to readings.

What is DIESEL doing for Independent Bookstore Day? We'll be giving out prizes with purchases and selling event-exclusive items! (While supplies last.) At our Del Mar location, we'll be giving out limited edition San Diego Book Crawl pins designed by Susie Ghahremani.

Online Events for Independent Bookstore Day

Independent Bookstore Day Exclusive Items For Sale

San Diego Book Crawl

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