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Bookstore gets set for move

Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse will open long-anticipated new home Monday.

February 02, 2011|By Joe Piasecki
(Raul Roa/Valley…)

An 18-month effort to replace a drab former gas station with a modern custom literary emporium is about to finally pay off for a pair of La Cañada Flintridge residents.

Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse owners Peter and Lenora Wannier expect to open their new and expanded Foothill Boulevard location on Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating a new chapter in the city’s literary life.

While the move from a leased location at Foothill and Angeles Crest Highway to the one they built up the street at Foothill and Chevy Chase Drive takes them not much further than next door, the Wanniers hope to go miles in expanding the bookstore’s role in the community.

“It’s not an accident that we chose to relocate across from the La Cañada Flintridge Community Center. It makes us a literary community center in a kind of way, which is what this town has never convincingly had,” said Peter Wannier, a retired Caltech astronomy professor and JPL research scientist.

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To advance that line of thinking, The Wanniers have long planned increasing their selection of titles, including a selection of collectible vintage books, and offering an dedicated readings and special-events area independent from the din of the store’s coffee and pastry counter.

The new Flintridge Books will also be one two locations in California to boast an Espresso Book Machine, a type of miniature digital printing press allowing users to download, print and bind long-out-of-print titles or upload and publish copies of their own work.

“Dissemination of knowledge is something really important to us. We feel that the printed word is important, and the value we bring is matching the right person to the right book,” said Lenora Wannier, a librarian who specialized in rare books and manuscripts.

The Wanniers leased the location of their present store in 2007 following Peter’s retirement, but the bibliophiles had already started making plans for the new property after purchasing the land two years earlier.

Starting from scratch on empty land that had once held a gas station and then a makeshift flower shop proved a daunting and expensive task — and one full of delays and surprises.

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