GLENDALE, Calif. – Abril Bookstore is moving from its address of 415 East Broadway to Adams Square, an Art Deco shopping center with operating Armenian businesses located in a different part of Glendale. The two-story building covered with bricks was the bookstore’s home for over 22 years. The green door beyond the two pink trees across the years was the entrance of the busiest Armenian community center in the city. Boxes filled with books and paintings carefully placed on the floor silently proclaim the end of an era. The last customer of the day hesitantly rings the doorbell, and Arno Yeretzian, the owner of Abril, realizes that he forgot to lock it. I wave “It’s okay,” so he can conduct one more sale before we start the interview.
Arno finds two folding chairs from somewhere in the office full of moving boxes. He is tired, physically and emotionally. It was a difficult month. Arno reopened the bookstore after the forced closure of Covid-19 and now he needs to pack. The landlord of the building, where Abril has been residing for more than 20 years, didn’t make it any easier for one of the last standing Armenian cultural centers to survive. With a government loan, Arno was only able to cover two month rent and some small expenses. Moving seems to be the only way to keep his father’s dream and his own future alive. “The Armenian community was always supportive. A lot of people just came to shop only to help us with the income. But there are a lot of them who really need books. Abril became the heart of the community. They don’t want us to close,” Arno shares his gratitude.
Abril was established as the first Armenian-language magazine in Los Angeles in 1977 at the address of 5450 Santa Monica Boulevard. Harout Yeretzian and his brother Noubar started it as a partnership. And of course Seeroon and Seta, Arno’s mother and aunt, respectively, were performing their part in helping Abril to thrive. “They always look at the men, but in reality it’s the women who makes it happen,” Arno smiles profoundly.
Harut took care of the editorial work and Noubar dealt with the finances. Abril magazine covered all the artists, writers and other community members in the Diaspora. Soon, instead of printing Abril somewhere else, the brothers founded their own printing company and even started to take printing orders. The printing business expanded to the point that the Yeretzian brothers started to print books.