Luis Rodriguez: Tia Chucha’s At 10 Years

A bookstore that’s like a favorite aunt

As it approaches its 10th anniversary, Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and Bookstore has become a cultural fixture in the northeast Valley.

By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles TimesMay 28, 2011

Since it opened in 2001, Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and Bookstore has endeavored to be the San Fernando Valley’s answer to City Lights, a Chicano-centric version of the San Francisco

Luis Rodriguez inside Tia Chucha. (Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

bibliophiles’ paradise that mid-wifed the Beat generation.

Yet only a few years ago, it was unclear whether the Sylmar-based combination bookstore, cafe, performance space and boutique publishing house would be around to mark its 10th anniversary in business this December.

In February 2007, Tia Chucha’s was forced to seek new quarters to make way for a high-tech laundromat. Customers and supporters fretted aloud. A community meeting was held. A Times story lamented that a cultural “muse” was about to skip out on the northeast Valley.

As it turned out, the muse was simply migrating. For the last two years, Tia Chucha’s has been operating out of a Sylmar strip mall storefront just off the 210 Freeway, not far from its former location, though the new space is only about half the size of its previous digs.

But under the restlessly energetic ownership of Luis Rodriguez, his wife Maria Trinidad Rodriguez (known to everyone as Trini) and brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez, the nonprofit Tia Chucha’s continues to serve as a cultural oasis for a clientele with mostly modest incomes and limited access to wireless Internet, bookstores, movie theaters and live performance venues.

“All the arts is getting concentrated downtown and at the beaches. You can’t get to a movie house from here, you can’t get to a bookstore from here,” said Rodriguez, 56, a poet, reformed ex-gang banger and author of the bestselling memoir “Always Running.”  Click here to read more. . .

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