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Once Upon a Time: 45 Years Later, Still Going Strong

Owner Maureen Palacios discusses owning the Once Upon a Time bookstore, her pride and joy.

Maureen Palacios is a business owner, but she describes herself as a caretaker -- a caretaker of books, that is. She owns the  bookstore on Honolulu Boulevard, which Palacios claims is one of "oldest bookstore in the nation." Maybe, but it's certainly one of the oldest in Montrose!

The bookstore opened in 1966, originally on the other end of the boulevard where now keeps shop. Palacios bought it from the original owner, Jane Humphrey, eight years ago at the urging of her daughters (then 7 and 9) and has never looked back.

In 2003, life changed for Palacios. She put in a bid for the store, and it was hers three days later. She quit her job as a human resources consultant, which she'd been for 20 years.

"Basically, I fired people," she jokes. Now she is busy "putting books in people's hands and children's hands and getting them to read--it's way better."

Palacios loves being part of the , which she calls a "hidden gem." 

"As a business owner, I wish more people would know about [the Montrose Shopping Park]. You want more people to experience what we have to offer, all the local businesses that are independent. A few are franchised, but most everybody is an independent mom and pop type of shop. Those kinds of businesses are going out and we don't want that to happen. We want people to be able to shop local."

Palacios takes prides in shop's unique atmosphere. "There are bigger stores around, but this one has more charm," she explains.

In the future, Palacios hopes that the Montrose Shopping Park will "continue the indie spirit of independent store and not have any more franchises or corporate stores that don't have their headquarters here." 

She stresses the importance of independent stores like hers, which hire local bookeepers, accountants, designers, etc., noting that such stores are what keep jobs local. Having lived in La Cresenta for 17 years, the local community is important to her.

Her absolute favorite book in the store is All the World, a picture book that has "the best blend of writing and illustration. Palacios also favors Misty of Chincoteague. In addition to books, patrons will find stuffed animals, cards, bookmarks, and toys. 

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