Sandpiper Books: The Hidden Gems of Torrance
July 8, 2022
With the end of the school year, students look forward to the relaxing summer months away from school. While some may seek out the excitement and thrill associated with summer, others may be looking to rest and find calm after a busy year. Sandpiper Books is a hidden, yet unique place to enjoy that peace.
Torrance is filled with an exciting assortment of business chains and popular stores. Among these prominent attractions, however, are the smaller, hole-in-the-wall businesses with their unique services and stories. Sandpiper Books, at 4665 Torrance Blvd, is one such treasure.
Hidden in a small crevice of a shopping center, Sandpiper has been bringing life and stories to the area since 1992. The bookstore was originally owned by a woman named Christine Anderson for over 20 years before she retired. Then came Tish Gamez in 2015. Upon taking ownership, Gamez worked to renovate and polish away the previous damages for eight months. After, she expanded Sandpiper’s inventory by adding stationery, greeting cards, and other gift shop items for customers to purchase with their novels. Gamez did this to promote other niche businesses that cater specifically to book lovers, such as Out of Print, which “specializes in book-themed T-shirts and tote bags and such,” said bookseller Becky Bass.
With Sandpiper’s renewal came their wide assortment of new, old, and out-of-print books, along with numerous local author events. Though with the pandemic, bookseller Karina Glenn explained these events were put on hiatus: “We haven’t yet [hosted in-store events] since January, but we’ll definitely be open to doing anything like that.” They plan for more community-based events in the future.
In late 2021, Gamez retired, taken over by Ben Gunther, the owner of Dave’s Olde Book Shop on Artesia Blvd. This ownership came with an expansion of the store’s offerings: sections dedicated to banned books, celebrating months of awareness and honoring specific heritages, assorted novels recommended from #booktok, and a refurbishment to cozy up the place.
Though the pandemic’s chaos brought some downsides, it brought a few unexpected benefits. When people were quarantined, they began to clear their shelves, prompting a “tidal wave” of donations to Sandpiper’s door. “People just began cleaning out every[thing] they’ve ever had since the 1970’s,” said Glenn. “We have a storage the size of this shop filled with books that have been donated!” They’re always open to donations and buying books. If customers have any spare books, Sandpiper encourages them to stop by from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to drop some off!
Overall, Sandpiper is a very quiet, indie bookstore. They exist not for the mainstream market, but to provide a cozy home for all book lovers. With this, they’re well known for their customer service and having an atmosphere that allows people to let their minds wander the shelves. As a part of improving the customer experience, the shop has improved and expanded its children’s section, organized books by age group, and even arranged a section for Newberry-appraised novels.
As younger generations are consumed by their screens, booksellers fear their stores might lose business, youth may lose interest in tangible literature, and general literacy among them might start to decline. Workers at Sandpiper are worried that the heavy technology use will take their focus away from the real world. While they aren’t fully against the use of technology, they do want people to understand there’s more to life than just the screen.
The booksellers at Sandpiper hope to continue the shop’s legacy and provide a safe, friendly place for whomever bookworms find it their fancy. “We are open to and accepting of all walks of life. Let’s save humanity one book at a time,” Bass said, smiling.