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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Maps Sold to Travelers And Prop Masters, Too

Brian Draper opened Geographia Map & Travel Bookstore in 1986, after almost a decade in the restaurant business. He had a 1975 degree in geography from California State University,

Northridge, and wanted to put it to use, so he’s now running a 1,600-square-foot shop with one part-time employee. The bulk of his sales are to people heading off on adventures, but since his shop is in Burbank near major studio and production companies many of the maps he sells are used for more locally appropriate purposes.

“We have customers in numerous categories. There are travelers, there are people who are interested in recreation and there are business people. And among the business people would be people who work in the entertainment industry for example, set decorators who use maps for films and TV. The studios buy them for props and set dressing.

“We carry maps for travel to destinations all over the world, pictures books and language books, globes and travel accessories: money belts, electrical converters, different convenience items.

“We sell topographical maps. A lot of people buy them for recreation, for hiking. People who do environmental studies often need them, and I have people that do archaeological studies that buy them.

“On a normal weekday, between 50 and 100 people come in, maybe half browse and half buy. Saturdays are sometimes heavier, sometimes lighter. It depends.

“The bulk of the business is travelers. I just had people taking a trip to Italy. A photographer was going to Ghana to do some personal business. There was a man who was in today who’s going to Delhi. The customers are college-age through retirees, people traveling on a low budget to super-deluxe. That’s what makes my day so interesting the fact that people who travel are interesting people.

“I order constantly. I deal, typically, directly with the publisher, via e-mail, fax or I call in orders.

“Business has changed because there are bigger stores that sell some of the merchandise that I sell. There were a lot fewer specialty stores of this type back when I started. And then there’s the Internet.

“I went up to Northern California, near Tahoe, just a few months ago. I was up there to run a race, the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. Of course, I did have all my topo maps spread out so I could kind of follow the terrain in the months leading up to it. I didn’t need a map to follow the route; it was pretty well marked.”

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