If you’re sober, thinking about it or have friends in recovery, chances are you have walked through the glass doors of My 12 Step Store—a boutique-style recovery book and gift store on Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of West Hollywood. The store’s logo refers to various 12-step programs of recovery—be it addiction to alcohol, narcotics, sex, love, food, meth or co-dependency, to list a few.
My 12 Step Store’s signature apple green and serenity blue colors give it a fresh look, but this is not your ordinary recovery shop. Founder and director of outreach for the store Russ-Jon Holguin (known as RJ) strives to celebrate the journey of recovery by offering new, edgy and fun gifts. “We offer ways to make recovery exciting,” he says. “Here’s where you’ll find medallions for anyone in recovery, as well as a ‘One F*cking Day at a Time’ T-shirt, clean and sober underwear and ‘You’re a F*cking Miracle’ greeting cards—people either love it, or get up against it. We’re real people riding the roller coaster of life.”
RJ, a West Hollywood resident who got clean and sober in 1986 at age 24, recently celebrated 26 years of recovery. When the opportunity to open a business presented itself in 2003, he thought a smoke shop would be profitable; however, remembering back to when he was a college student living in WeHo, he always wanted a small gift store. He invested $50,000 of his savings to open My 12 Step Store on Wilcox near Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. “It was the worst return on investment but the best money I ever spent on therapy,” he laughs.
The store had its challenges, but it flourished and needed a larger audience after a few years. “Finding a place in West Hollywood was difficult,” he says. “Real estate agents and landlords associated recovery and 12-steps with drunks, addicts and smokers, so they did not want to rent me a space. I’d ridden this roller coaster before, but with surrendered devotion and steady determination, a landlord finally came along who told me that he would be honored to rent me a space.” My 12 Step Store opened on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Huntley Drive in 2006, where it continues to shine today. Nine years later, it has a strong online presence and a large Facebook audience. It’s also one of the few remaining boutiques where you can find various literature, chips, medallions, jewelry and apparel in the heart of WeHo.
RJ is proudest of the “You Are Not Alone” sign on the storefront window. “It stays lit 24 hours a day,” he says. “People come to this city to fulfill their dreams. Sometimes those dreams are broken and people become broken. The sign lets you know that you are not alone in that moment, whether you’re in recovery or not. I believe that light represents the nature of our store.”
For more, visit my12stepstore.com or find the store on Facebook at the My 12 Step Store Official Page.