Chatter's blog

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


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


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.

Alison, John & all DIESELfolk

Thank You from DIESEL, A Bookstore


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. 

Alison, John & all DIESELFolk

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


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.

Alison, John & all DIESELfolk

Independent Bookstore Day -- Saturday August 29th!


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

Latest News About DIESEL in Del Mar


Dear Reader,

We are now open, by appointment and walk-up, for one-at-a-time browsing from 11-4 daily at our bookstore at Del Mar Highlands Town Center! 

You can email or call us (, (858) 925-7078) to reserve a 20-minute time to browse during those hours, either by yourself or with a small group or family.  You can also just walk up and browse at the store, if no other person or group is currently browsing.  We will require masks to be worn and hand sanitizer used, before entering the store.

We recommend and sell books in person at the door, by phone, online and via email.  You can browse our sections online, by clicking the Browse Del Mar tab. We ship; provide streaming audio online; and sell ebooks through our website, too – the whole shebang!

Have you checked in on our Elevenses events?  They are our daily 11 o'clock events -- publisher reps presenting great new titles; Children's Storytime videos; Ask A Bookseller; and video book reviews by booksellers, and others! They are on Facebook, Crowdcast and our website ~ join the fun! Please come to our website,, for our upcoming, current, and past events.

Thanks to all of you for your support of our store through this strenuous time.   We hope to continue to supply you, your friends and your families with books for beach, school and home for many years to come.

Stay strong, healthy & well-read!
Alison, John & all DIESELfolk

Black Lives Matter


Dear Reader,

Our letters over the last two months have been focused on the coronavirus.  Now we are dealing with a centuries-old plague that has never been successfully defeated in our country – structural racism.  The video of George Floyd’s death under the hands and knees of three Minneapolis policemen has traumatized a nation not because it is new, but because it is so vividly horrific, pornographic, and obscene that anyone who sees it clearly experiences the cold-eyed, heartless violence that has been visited on black bodies and souls for 500 years.

The passionate outrage by caring human beings throughout the whole country and the world has been, and continues to be, extraordinary.  The success of this massive intention to create a racially just police force and society is yet to be seen. 

Our readers have responded with an increased desire to be better anti-racists, better at transforming our city, state and country to be a more just society.  Enough is enough.  May the protests continue until justice, not structural racist violence, reigns. 

Publishers’ books have gone back to reprint as the desire for these books rises.  We are glad to provide them to you, in times of surging interest, and in times of relative neglect.  We have a list of books at the end of this email.

People have also asked us about other ways that they can help.  Joining peaceful protests is an obvious choice.  Another is to volunteer for organizations; write letters, emails and make calls to elected representatives; and express your outrage and the need for systemic justice to all you know, especially to those more distant intentionally or emotionally from this necessity.

People, more concerned about the dangers of viral exposure that protests may present, have been interested in how to donate.  There are many places to find and assess the efficacy of organizations working toward a just and equitable world.

For us, these organizations have maintained a mostly decades-long commitment to exactly these issues, working in the trenches to improve fatally unjust structures of our society:

Equal Justice Society