Behind the Blue Door

Behind the Blue Door

3823 Fifth Avenue has quite a legendary past. Now known for Hillcrest’s best-dressed windows, this cozy shop was home to Blue Door Bookstore for almost four decades. Founded in 1961 by Bill and Mary Peccolo, the literary haven was purchased by Hillcrest resident Tom Stoup after Bill’s death in 1987. A former high school English teacher, Tom operated the store with the blue-painted door until 2000.

The Blue Door attracted customers from all over San Diego. Many remember employee Elton Ellis, with his heavy-rimmed glasses and a toothbrush mustache, who could discuss a wide range of literary topics. Stoup stood out, too, always puffing on a pipe, wearing a sweater and a little gold earring. After the birth of his granddaughter, Tom decided he wanted to retire and enjoy life’s pleasures. Patti DeYoung bought his inventory and tried to continue the bookstore tradition, but in a little over a year the Blue Door was gone.

Thankfully, the owner of Wear it Again Sam was waiting. Kristine Anderson had always loved the space, and had talked to Tom the previous year about renting it. Kristine first began collecting vintage clothing from garage sales and thrift stores while a student at SDSU. In 1974, she opened her first store on India Street. Two years later, with the help of a loan from the Feminist Credit Union, she moved the store into a larger space in Little Italy. Wear It Again Sam expanded to Hillcrest in 1980. Kristine stayed put at 3924 Park Boulevard for 20 years, before moving to Fifth Avenue in 2001.

Anderson has been fortunate to have a loyal staff through the years. Artist Christine Lo Presti still drives down from LA to create their theatrical window displays, and the stylish gal behind the counter, manager Barbara Shadgett, has been overseeing the store over 25 years. Wear It Again Sam offers a superb selection of classic clothing including collectable Hawaiian and Western wear, Victorian lace dresses, 1940s swing dresses and vintage suits. It’s better than a trip to a museum. Don’t miss it!

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