Margie Ghiz (left), owner of Midnight Special in Santa Monica, California, with staff.
Midnight Special, closed since February, was finally able to open its doors on November 6 in a new location less than a half-mile from its previous site on the Third Street Promenade. Last May, Margie Ghiz, owner of the Santa Monica bookstore, told BTW that Midnight Special had to move because of the high rents on the Promenade, but she hoped to reopen in a new location by the end of June. Ghiz cited financial woes and delays by the city, the landlord, and the architects/contractors for the five-month-long lag in reopening.
The store reopened without fanfare, said Ghiz. "It wasn't really a big deal to open," she said. "The big deal is the everydayness of what we do here. We got the permits at City Hall and just opened the doors." Ghiz added that Dutton's Brentwood Bookstore sent flowers.
Being closed and in some financial peril showed once again how loved the bookstore is by staff and customers, said Ghiz. "The staff hung in there. We closed February 28 and every staff member returned when we opened Thursday. That's amazing." Customer's response to Midnight Special's appeal for donations was also resounding. "We had well over a thousand people who replied and we got donations from all over: Norway, New York, Ohio, Hawaii. And not just money, but notes and letters." Ghiz said that appreciative letters were as important to her as the donations because they "keep you going." On November 15, a Benefit Poetry Reading for Midnight Special will be held at the literary arts club Beyond Baroque in Venice, California. (For more on the poetry benefit, click here.)
Though Midnight Special has been given thousands of dollars in donations, Ghiz said the bookstore is not out of the woods yet and would most likely always have money problems. "I'm not in business just to be in business, but because what we do matters. Some people say we should be less controversial, but I say, No way. We're here to affect people in whatever way we can. Especially now. We're doing a display on $87 billion dollars [the amount requested by President Bush to continue operations in Iraq and Afghanistan] and what it could do. I feel very privileged to play a role in any way to make things a tiny bit better." --Karen Schechner