The Light Bulb Center
7735 University Avenue, La Mesa
Sid Levinson and his two older brothers started a light bulb wholesale business more than 20 years ago with the help of their dad, who had been a light bulb salesman for many years. "He gave us our first suppliers and sources," Levinson explains. "Over the years, my brothers decided to do other things, and I wound up with the rest of the business." It started as a wholesale operation until Levinson opened the retail shop on University 14 years ago. It's a cluttered little place that Levinson and his partner Anita Hiller staff themselves, with the help of a few shop cats and a dog. Levinson says most of his customers "are looking for unusual or specific kinds of bulbs: different kinds of miniature bulbs, little halogen bulbs that go into different home and commercial fixtures, fluorescent tubes. Anything that's not the typical 100-watt bulb. We get referrals from places like Lamps Plus and Home Depot because there are literally 128,000 different light bulbs out there, and we carry...not all of them but about 80 percent. Home Depot carries probably 10 percent, maybe 15 percent." Levinson also carries antique bulbs -- reproductions and originals -- and he repairs and constructs lamps. "We repair every type of lamp," he says, "and we can make lamps out of almost anything. We just had a lady who brought in two huge urns from China, and she wanted those made into lamps, so we put all the wiring and parts in for her. And we've rewired 100-year-old lamps using a reproduction of the old cloth-wrapped wire that gives the original look."