Bucking the trend of old-school small businesses being killed off by technology and the internet, Sean Christopher recently expanded his love of books into a freestanding garage bookstore, named Lhooq Books. The small space offers the public a large selection of old, bound paper — real books, not electronic readers.
For the past eight years, Christopher sold antiquity books online. During that time, outside the old garage, along the whole wall facing Carlsbad Village Drive were shelves filled with books: hard cover, paperback, even art and coffee-table books. The wall became known around town as a “take ’n’ trade” community library of sorts. The racks were well organized, but when books ran low, Christopher would add books from his surpluses, filling up the numerous outdoor shelves.
The wooden garage, located at 755 ½ Carlsbad Village Drive, can be found tucked away down an alley, between a KFC and Garden State Bagels, just off Carlsbad Village Drive.
Having served a multitude of uses since being built in 1941, the garage was a former paint-supply store and at one time a smelly temporary storage space for a large restaurant’s cooking pots and pans. The garage’s other literary-related use was as the longtime distribution center for newspaper carriers who delivered the New York Times in North County.
After opening up the beamed ceiling, replacing original wiring, and re-purposing old shelves, cabinets, siding, and wood flooring that he found around town, Christopher opened in January of this year.
On March 10, Athena from Camp Pendleton was browsing books on health. She purchased the title What Works When Diets Don’t. Some other books she bought were on heath-based cancer treatments, for her mom. “I love the variety of books and the ambience,” she said. “Most of my favorite bookstores have closed down,” she added.
Christopher says he tries to offers hard-to-find books and is always adding new topics and genres. Most of the proceeds from book sales will be channeled to his nonprofit organization named "Exrealism," which focuses on exposing the public to art books and literature. To help his cause, an outdoors lounge/reading/garden area is being built in the yard between the garage and the back of his house on Jefferson Avenue.
Christopher acknowledged that the only way his business can stay open is because he owns the land. Once the make-up of a coastal community’s downtown, the few remaining mom-and-pop stores will soon be gone.