"The economy," sighs Pam Main, owner of the Cheesecake and Crime bookstore, as she works the register on Saturday, the final day. "The recession was just too deep and wide for us to make it." The store, at Eastern and Horizon Ridge, lasted more than a year before bottoming out. It's becoming a scarily common story.
The couple hundred books left in the small but friendly place are 75 percent off, the cheesecake is almost gone and the fixtures are priced to go—$50 for bookshelves, $40 for tables. Empty boxes sprawl from a corner, waiting to be filled. A dozen people mill around, raking through the remaining stock—whether you like your crime hard (Jim Thompson), boiled (Raymond Chandler) or both (James Ellroy); best-selling (James Patterson) or cat-fancying (Rita Mae Brown), there are still a few good last-minute buys.
Main seems to be keeping her spirits up; she banters jovially with her final day's worth of customers. Some ask about future plans; she says that they hope to use their website to continue selling the cheesecake, made by her husband, Lendall.
Three books in hand, I wait my turn at the counter. "You can go ahead of me," says the elderly gal who's up next; she has a sizable stack of books. "You don't have as many as I do—as many as you should have!" she adds with a laugh.
"Well," I replied, "I was in here yesterday." True enough; bought a couple of books then, too.
She was being funny and I was being glib, but she made an inadvertent point: Where was I six or eight months ago, when my patronage might've done some real good? I wasn't here; nor was I buying a membership at the Las Vegas Art Museum or kicking it to live music at Canvas Cafe, both now closed or closing as well. I was probably slabbed out on the couch, watching a rerun of Mansquito. It's sobering to realize how easily I took these places for granted, as if they could get by on my appreciation that they exist; can't only blame the bankers, I guess. The books come up to a few bucks, and I buy some cheesecake cookies, too. They're terrific.