This past winter, The Mesa Neighborhood of Santa Barbara was in an uproar because the beloved Mesa Bookstore (1838 Cliff Dr.) was planning to close its doors after 25 years. The owners Lisa and David Karys-Schiff put their business up for sale after opening another bookstore, Broadway Books in Santa Maria (906 S. Broadway).
The Karys-Schiff’s put Mesa Bookstore on the market hoping that someone would buy the bookstore and continue its operation. Residents were dismayed when no one bought the bookstore, time languished and the only offer to lease the space came from a person who wanted to replace the longtime classic with a hookah bar.
Luckily, longtime Mesa residents Diane Arnold and D.J. Palladino took a sharp turn in their career paths and purchased this bookstore.
Palladino is a former arts editor at The Santa Barbara Independent and at Santa Barbara Magazine. He also is an esteemed contributor to our very own magazine — Santa Barbara Seasons. Arnold has spent the last several years teaching special education to children in the Santa Barbara area. The two have taken their literary backgrounds and applied them to continuing the legacy of Mesa Bookstore. This business endeavor is a complete surprise to the couple, but they had been patrons of Mesa Bookstore for the past 25 years and could not see it leave so unceremoniously. The negotiations to buy the store were painless and efficient because of the mutual respect both parties held for each other and the bookstore.
The couple plans to move slowly with changes to the bookstore out of respect for their faithful customers. According to Palladino, all the best bookstores he has been in throughout his lifetime are filled with cool, esoteric books—his impending changes reflect this belief. Palladino wants to set up a literary section in the store that offers classic novels, an edgy graphic novel section, and even an author’s table.
Arnold wants to cater the younger patrons of the bookstore by expanding the Children’s Section. The entire store is very quaint and cozy, measuring up at only 205 square feet, so some rearranging of the interior layout may be done to accommodate these changes. Although the two plan on making changes to Mesa Bookstore, the comprehensive goal is to improve upon the store while honoring its roots. “We want to keep it small and funky—a place where you can find a great mystery book on a rainy day,” says Palladino.
For more information, call 805/966-3735.