We had the good fortune of connecting with Letitia Pilelis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Letitia, alright, so let’s kick it off with a deep question: what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
For me, the most important lesson isn’t something I learned along the way, but rather, it’s what I’ve known (almost instinctively) all of my life. Harry Browne (a libertarian writer and investment analyst) knew it and felt that it was the most important gift he could give his nine-year-old daughter. So, on Christmas Day, back in 1966, he wrote her this letter: It’s Christmas, and I have the usual problem of deciding what to give you. I know you might enjoy many things – books, games, clothes. But I’m very selfish. I want to give you something that will stay with you for more than a few months or years. I want to give you a gift that might remind you of me every Christmas. If I could give you just one thing, I’d want it to be a simple truth that took me many years to learn. If you learn it now, it may enrich your life in hundreds of ways. And it may prevent you from facing many problems that have hurt people who have never learned it. The truth is simply this: No one owes you anything. This letter echos what I believe is the most important lesson anyone can learn and live. Some would call this letter cruel, but I call it compassion. Because when we think life owes us something, and when we don’t receive what we feel we are owed, we naturally assign blame. Blame is like a prison. It robs us of hope, making us victims, leaving us bitter and helpless. Personal responsibility is the truest form of freedom we can ever know.
What should our readers know about your business?
I own a bookshop. I have wanted to own a bookstore since I was a child, and I saw that dream realized more than twenty years ago. Sandpiper Books is my second store. It’s a quaint little shop, just under fifteen-hundred sq. ft., with forest green carpet, tall old pine bookshelves, and a children’s book nook tucked way in back with a pair of little yellow chairs and twinkling lights reaching criss-cross from bookcase to bookcase. In 2019, our store earned The Best Bookshop in Torrance Award and we couldn’t be prouder. Our shop is, as it should be, the heart of the city and we take that privilege seriously. We don’t just sell books. At Sandpiper Books, we know you. Not just what you read, we know your name, your kid’s names, what they read, and what they should read.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For me, The Huntington Library is the closest thing to heaven on earth. I’m a vegan, so one of my very favorite restaurants is also my favorite grocery store: Follow Your Heart in Canoga Park. In my opinion, if you’re looking for vegan food, FYH is simply the best in all the land!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
God has blessed me with many exceptional people in my life. These people have encouraged me, supported me, mentored, and loved me every step of my life. Even the people who have hurt me have gifted me because the pain has often taught me the most. In terms of my profession, I’d like to thank Jack Wolcott, the owner of Grass Roots Bookstore in Corvallis, Oregon, for not only his friendship but for his mentorship, for sharing with me his years of bookselling experience. For as long as I can remember I’ve dreamt of owning a bookshop. And like any dream, it takes more than just passion; it takes drive, a willingness to take a chance – a chance on yourself. Jack showed me that making a vocation out of what you love – what gives you joy was possible because he not only lived it, he is good at it. I believe I have done just that. I’ve created a bookstore that is good. Good for book lovers, good for the community, and in some small way, I believe it’s good for the world.
Other: Online Store: https://bookshop.org/shop/sandpiperbooks