Our Story

Founded in 1966, this bookstore has been a magical place for thousands of children and adults alike throughout the years. In April 2003, the Palacios family, by way of our then 9-year old daughter Jessica’s letter-to–the-editor, bought the business from founder Jane Humphrey.

Jane Humphrey Founder of Once Upon A Time Bookstore, photo curtesy of Glendale News Press

Jane Humphrey, Founder of Once Upon A TIme Bookstore

Palacios Family from left to right Jorge, Jessica, Maureen, & Amelia - Current owners of Once Upon A Time

The Palacios family in 2011 (Jorge, Jessica, Maureen, & Amelia)

In 2008, Publisher's Weekly announced that Once Upon a Time was the nation's oldest children's bookstore. In 2015, Once Upon a Time was awarded the prestigious Women's National Book Association Pannell Award, given annually to a bookstore whose community contributions stimulate, promote, and encourage children’s and young people’s interest in books.  In 2016, California State Senator Carol Liu (District 25), named Once Upon a Time as the California Small Business of the Year in her district, representing about 930,000 people in the 25th Senate District, which includes Burbank, Bradbury, Glendale, Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, Altadena, San Marino, Shadow Hills, Atwater Village, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Sunland-Tujunga, Monrovia, Duarte, San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont, Glendora, and Upland. 

We are proud to be independent booksellers, with a unique combination of superb customer service and fast special order fulfillment. One of our strengths, besides our store's obvious charming ambiance, is our book selection: we continue to carry only QUALITY children’s books and an intelligently curated choice of books for the entire family. With an open heart, we have built a community-based neighborhood store that spurs imagination, whimsy, and a passion for reading.

There's more to a bookstore than the books on the shelves. When you buy a book or other merchandise from Once Upon a Time, part of the price you pay goes to:

  • Support our friendly, hardworking, knowledgeable staff

  • Support local schools, teachers & librarians

  • Support dozens of local, national & international charities and service organizations

No part of the price you pay goes to:

  • Remote corporate headquarters where decisions are based solely on maximizing profits

  • Absentee owners who don't work in the store or live in the community

At Once Upon a Time we are dedicated to doing business as a responsible member of our community. When you shop at Once Upon a Time, you join with us in building community.

Our store’s location, 2207 Honolulu, is nestled next to mouth-watering Zeke’s BBQ at the east end of Honolulu Avenue in the beautiful, tree-shaded 3-block long Montrose Shopping Park.  Be sure to experience all our store’s delights and while you are here – visit our neighbors for a bite!  Click on this link to see Once Upon a Time and Montrose featured in a national (CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley) clip on Small Business Saturday.

Once Upon a Time Bookstore – an independent community bookstore for the entire family

Harry Potter Audiobooks through Libro.fm

Staff Picks

Debut novelist J.J. Gesher tells an intimate, grief-filled story about Jacob Fischer - a sometimes wayward, sometimes obedient Brooklyn Orthodox Jew who breaks down after a devastating loss. Slowly rebuilding and rediscovering himself in a small-town Alabama town, Jacob has support from a cast of well-drawn characters - who also have their own demons to deal with. I loved learning more about the Orthodox Jew and the rich history of its sometimes stifling traditions, butting heads with modern sensibilities and realities. This highly readable title, right down to the very last sentence, is a natural pick for book clubs. A strong debut from the writing pair of J.J. Gesher. - Maureen