Dutton’s Brentwood Bookstore from “The Wonder Years”Apr 9th, 2014 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
UPDATE – The Wonder Years is coming to DVD for the first time ever in October! The 26-disc boxed set includes all six seasons of the show, plus a cast reunion segment, over 15 hours of bonus footage, a collectible metal locker, two production booklets packed with behind-the-scenes information, a replica yearbook, and Wonder Years magnets. Sets can be pre-ordered here.
I recently received an extensive list of The Wonder Years filming locations from a fellow stalker named Mallory who lives in Iowa. Mallory is a huge fan of the series (she loved it so much that she put off watching the finale for ages as she couldn’t bear to see the show end – love that!) and over the years had managed to compile an index of over thirty locales featured on it. One of the locations, the book shop from the Season 1 episode titled “Swingers,” I had been trying to track down for a while. Said book shop turned out to be the historic Dutton’s Brentwood Bookstore, an L.A. institution that was shuttered in 2008. I decided the place was still worthy of a stalk, though, and headed over there when I was in the area a couple of weeks ago.
The original Dutton’s Books & Prints was opened in 1961 by Bill and Thelma Dutton at 5146 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in North Hollywood. All four of the couple’s children worked onsite, including eldest son Davis who took over operations of the store in the 1970s. He opened a couple of sister shops shortly thereafter. Doug, the youngest Dutton child, decided to establish his own branch of the family business and in 1984 purchased Brentwood Book Shop in the Barry Building, which had been around since the ‘60s. He renamed the site Dutton’s Brentwood Bookstore and ran it independently of Davis’ outposts. Dutton’s Brentwood was an immediate success and Doug eventually expanded, taking over several adjacent storefronts, all of which surrounded a courtyard where patrons were encouraged to lounge over a good tome. In a 2008 Huffington Post article, author Tom Teicholz described the 5,000-square-foot space as such, “The whole place always had a ramshackle feel, with frayed carpets and crowded shelves. Each area is its own empire, and one felt free to wander among them, and trusted to take a book from one area to the other without being accused of running off.” The store even attracted its fare share of celebrities and such stars as Dustin Hoffman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Diane Keaton, Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck, Meg Ryan, John Lithgow, Nora Ephron, Randy Newman, Maria Shriver, and Calista Flockhart could often be seen perusing the crowded aisles.
In 2004, upon learning that the owner of the Barry Building was securing plans to tear down the property to make way for a new shopping center, Doug decided to open a sister store in Beverly Hills. He figured that if the Brentwood site did end up closing, he would still have a place to operate. Sadly though, the Beverly Hills store wound up hurting him financially and he closed it in 2006. Shortly thereafter, Davis shuttered the original Dutton’s in North Hollywood due to declining sales. Dutton’s Brentwood was soon suffering the same fate and that, coupled with the fact that Doug had never recovered fiscally from the Beverly Hills debacle, led to the decision to close the store. On April 30th, 2008, Dutton’s Brentwood made its last sale. In a cruel twist of fate, the Barry Building’s owner eventually withdrew his plans to tear down the property in 2013. Had Doug not opened the Beverly Hills store, it is quite possible that the Brentwood outpost would still be in operation. Today, the space houses Cisco Home, a sustainable furniture company.
In the “Swingers” episode of The Wonder Years, Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) and Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano) headed to Dutton’s to pick up a copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex: But Were Afraid to Ask, upon the recommendation of Kevin’s older brother, Wayne Arnold (Jason Hervey). While the Dutton’s name was visible on the shop’s awning in the scene, because the façade of the Brentwood storefront did not match what was shown onscreen, I figured a different Dutton’s had been used in the filming. As you can see below, the shop that appeared in The Wonder Years had an entrance door located on its right hand side. Dutton’s (which you can see photographs of from the time that it was in operation here and here) did not. None of the other Dutton’s locations seemed to match up either, though. It wasn’t until Mallory mentioned that she thought a fake door had been added to the exterior for the shoot that things began to fall into place.
We now believe that a different book store was used for the interior filming and that a fake door was added to the exterior of Dutton’s so that it would match up to what was shown of that interior.
We still cannot figure out where interior filming took place, though. As you can see in the scene capture below (which I flipped), there appear to be the words “Harmon Books” along with some sort of initial (possibly an “A”) painted on the door behind Kevin and Paul. No amount of Google sleuthing has been able to unearth a Harmon Books in the L.A. area, though. Does the store happen to look familiar to any of my fellow stalkers?
Thanks to the Dear Old Hollywood website, I learned that the Dutton’s space was also featured in the 1965 film Sylvia, as the spot where Alan Macklin (George Maharis) first tracked down Sylvia (Carroll Baker). At the time, the shop was still operating as the Brentwood Book Shop.
Dutton’s North Hollywood location was the bookstore where Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) worked in the original opening of Can’t Hardly Wait, which never made it to the screen. That opening is only visible briefly in the movie’s trailer.
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Big THANK YOU to fellow stalker Mallory for finding this location!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Cisco Home, aka the former Dutton’s Brentwood Bookstore from the “Swingers” episode of The Wonder Years, is located at 11975 San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood.