Christmas shoppers looking for bargains may want to stop by this month. The 41-year-old spiritual, metaphysical shop at 8585 Melrose Ave. will close permanently Dec. 31, and everything in the store is on sale.
Two years ago, owners Phil Thompson and Stan Madson . Both in their 70s, Thompson and Madson were ready to retire, but they wanted to keep the business alive, so they offered it for sale.
For 18 months, there were no takers, but late in the summer, Bodhi Tree announced on its website that a purchaser had come through. Unfortunately, that deal fell apart in October, according to office manager Neisha. Now they are talking to other potential buyers.
“More than one person was looking to buy,” Neisha told Weho Patch. “These were people who were interested before, but we had already made a commitment to the two ladies. They were already in the queue, so once the two ladies backed out, we started talking to them. They’ve already been vetted, so we know they’re serious.”
The negotiations for the store are ongoing and an announcement could come any day.
“Things seem to change every day,” Neisha said. “It’s gotten to the point, we just laugh at the ups and downs, but we’re keeping good thoughts and are hopeful the sale will go through.”
If the sale does happen, the new owners will have to find a new location for the business. Thompson and Madson have sold the property to a buyer who owns several other properties along Melrose.
But in the meantime, Bodhi Tree has put everything on sale. After the doors close on Dec. 31, they will spend the next several weeks dismantling the store and selling off fixtures. They have to vacate the premises by Jan. 31, Neisha said.
If someone does buy the business, that buyer may opt to run it just as an online bookstore. Bodhi Tree has a well-maintained computer system and a large database of customers. Plus, there is the Bodhi Tree name, which is known worldwide. “That’s very valuable,” said Neisha.
Bodhi Tree employs about 24 people, down from a peak of about 100 in the late 80s. All of those employees will be looking for work come the new year unless a new buyer is found.
Bodhi Tree opened on July 10, 1970, with an initial inventory of 2,000 books. At the time, books on Eastern philosophy, transcendental meditation and non-Christian religions were difficult to find as mainstream bookstores did not carry them.
Once Bodhi Tree proved there was a market for the books, publishers started producing more titles and mainstream bookstores created sections for New Age/metaphysical books.
Larger bookstores and online retailers like Amazon were able to offer deeper discounts, which hurt business. But that what hurt the business most was the parking problems created after the city introduced permit parking in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Beyond a bookstore, Bodhi Tree served as a gathering place for like-minded people. The adjacent Meeting Center building, which Thompson and Madson purchased in the late 70s, hosted many lectures, workshops and meetings on a variety of topics.