The Last Bookstore in California’s Carmel-by-the-Sea

The Last Bookstore in California’s Carmel-by-the-Sea

Nestled in a small seaside city is Pilgrim’s Way, the final present bookstore in the upscale seaside city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

“The word ‘pilgrim’ actually means way-shower or seeker of truth,” co-owner Cynthia Fernandes advised NTD, a sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.

The bookshop was based in 1969 and now includes a cozy secret backyard that was initially waste land between the buildings. The backyard is embellished with water, crops, regionally made statues, candles, furnishings and extra.

Visitors can learn a e-book below the shade of the crops, having fun with the tranquility.

Time era photo
A nook of the Secret Garden close to Pilgrim’s Way Books in Carmel, Calif., on October 18, 2022. (David Lam/NTD)

Fernandes and her husband, Paul Fridlund, are the fifth proprietor couple, they usually each intend to maintain the bookstore open for years to return.

“It’s rewarding,” Fridlund advised NTD. “We are very happy to be here and to be a part of the community, serving people in the best way we can.”

All the books on Pilgrim’s Road are hand-picked by Fernandes. They embrace fiction, native curiosity, music and different classes.

While Fridlund does varied duties to maintain the bookstore working, reminiscent of bookkeeping, laptop system work, upkeep and cleansing, Fernandes is accountable for the appear and feel of the place.

“And she has a magic touch,” Fridlund stated. “I call it ‘laser fingers.’ … She tells me what to do and we do it. It always turns out just incredible.”

“There’s a really interesting collection of things that we’d like to invite people to explore and see what resonates,” Fernandes stated. “We’ve really narrowed down our space to only have things that have proven to be of value to people.”

According to Fernandes, she is an avid reader. She began engaged on Pilgrim’s Way over 20 years in the past, and now she follows not solely the books, but in addition podcasts, royal interviews and proposals from purchasers. She makes use of this data to assist her choose books to show in bookstores.

Fernandes recalled that when she and her husband determined to take over the shop, “what attracted us is that aspect of being part of the community and a unique offering. … There are some cool people in Carmel and we have some really interesting visitors. … So it’s a good place to be physically, with a mild temperature and climate, and then working with modern content, authors, events that are happening.”

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Cynthia Fernandes, co-owner of Pilgrim’s Way Books and Secret Garden, in Carmel, Calif., on Oct. 18, 2022. (David Lam/NTD)

Fridlund stated he has loved many moments working the bookstore.

“I have a very great feeling; [I] I just want to talk to people and meet people from all walks of life,” he said. “We just want to create a really beautiful, beautiful place [that just warms] your heart when you walk in the door and find things you never knew you never even knew [come] across.”

As e-books turn into fashionable, bookstores like Pilgrim’s Way are going through extinction. But for Fernandes, the shortage of a bookstore in town is tantamount to discriminating in opposition to these consumers who nonetheless want a printed e-book.

“Nowadays people are very careful about what they buy,” she stated. “We want to serve these people in a way that will meet their needs for quality and content.”

She stated some individuals need books to have the ability to function decor on a espresso desk, nightstand or bookshelf.

Not lengthy after the couple took over the bookstore, the housing bubble burst. Fernandes recalled how a tougher time than the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everybody lost so much money,” she stated.

Later, throughout pandemic lockdowns, Pilgrim’s Way needed to be closed for round three months. With neighborhood assist and a authorities small enterprise reduction fund, the couple was in a position to hold it going. In addition, with the assistance of a neighborhood carpenter, they have been in a position to renovate the outdated geodesic dome and repair a leak.

“Things happen when you’re in business that you can’t predict or plan for,” Fernandes stated. “And what we have determined to do is use it [these kinds] of conditions as alternatives to develop our resilience, flexibility and adaptableness.”

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Cynthia Fernandes works in the backyard in Carmel, California, on October 18, 2022. (David Lam/NTD)

Like many different post-Covid companies, Pilgrim’s Way can be affected by provide chain points.

What Fernandes feels is “a responsibility to really address all those behind-the-scenes administration issues and create a space for people to come and experience a real bookstore.”

“Because there’s nothing like a neighborhood bookstore wherever you reside. If you’ve got missed one, then you definately’ll know what I’m speaking about,” Fernandes stated.

She stated Pilgrim’s Way is uniquely designed, not solely in what it affords, but in addition in its enterprise tradition and philosophy.

“I believe it was a chance to show and study that enterprise does not should be all about cash. Money is a crucial device, however there’s a place for capitalism to combine with humanitarianism,” she stated.

They hope their story can encourage others to take a position in comparable tasks in their hometowns.

“I’d like to think of reading as a modern-day old man,” Fernandes stated.

She in contrast it to how some persons are personally mentored.

“I think our world has evolved; now note-taking and learning are in books, and we adopt books and learn from them like our elders used to,” she stated.

Li Zhou


Lear is a reporter primarily based in San Francisco masking Northern California information.

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