Duttons Sad News

Duttons in Brentwood is closing. Now, Brentwood is across town from these here parts in the San Gabriel Valley, so I don’t know that I ever made it to that location. WriteGirl had a reading a while back at Dutton’s Beverly Hills, so I know I was there. Still, even though I haven’t been there (much), I’m saddened by the news.

Here in the eastern parts of La-La land, we have our own local independent bookstore, Vroman’s. In fact, I was there only yesterday, picnic lunch in hand with a friend/colleague to attend the literaries who lunch appearance of Jacqueline Winspear, author of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries. Book #5 is out, and there are gypsies in it.

But I digress.

An interesting part of the whole story– the owner of the property, Charlie Munger.

Munger was in Washington on Monday and could not be reached. He said in a statement that he would allow Dutton’s to use the space rent-free during the liquidation and that he would cover the $550,000 debt in exchange for the store’s closing. Dutton described the offer as “very gracious and generous.” As part of the deal, Munger said, Dutton would retain the Dutton’s trade name.

The LA Times article confirms what I’d suspected after reading the Duttons news elsewhere (and Googled) — that Charlie Munger is the other Berkshire Hathaway guy– along with, well, the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet.

Munger’s being awfully nice about it — absorbing half a million in Duttons debt and allowing him to stay there, rent free, while he holds a liquidation sale. Don’t understand why Munger has any say in Dutton’s being able to use the Duttons name, which is described as being part of the deal. After all, the owner is a man named Doug Dutton. Maybe it has to do with Munger’s property redevelopment proposal to open up an independent bookstore on the location– he’ll do the bookstore, but it won’t be called Dutton’s. While acknowledging Munger’s graciousness, Mr. Dutton lets slip a bit of Munger’s business acumen: “he thought of me as an old-fashioned businessman who was out of touch with reality.” For the sake of the independent bookstore business, I’d sure like to know more of Munger’s thinking about what makes for sound reality-based thinking about running a bookstore.

One response to “Duttons Sad News”

  1. Kaleb

    wow…when on the west side an eon or two ago, I’d go to Dutton’s, but growing up a SG “valley” gal, Vroman’s was THE only place to go for books, invitations…you name it. So sad that the independents are having to shut down. Ever try to get some personal service at one of the big box book stores?

    damn.