For the last three years, Muir has co-owned his hometown store with his wife, Jenny Cohen. They were living in Beaverton, Oregon, when they heard from family and friends that founding owner Sally Laventure was selling Waucoma. At the time, Muir was a software engineer, and Jenny was working as a financial analyst for Bonneville Power Administration. Muir always said that he wanted to buy a bookstore when he retired, and they decided to take the leap rather than wait for retirement.
We asked Jenny a few questions.
Year established: 1976 as Waucoma Books and Herbs. The store was located right around the corner from the current location on 2nd and Oak St. Founding owners Sally and Charley Laventure built bookshelves (which are still in use) out of lumber from the now-defunct Hanel Mill and drove their Volkswagen bus to a book distributor in Seattle to load up on their first inventory.
Neighborhood: Downtown Hood River, Oregon (Oak St.)
Square feet: 2000
Store cat: No. Too much traffic and we leave the door open. We love dogs though!
If Waucoma were a book, what book would it be? Little Women. We have women of all ages and personalities working here—and the token male. We are like family. We get along, get on each other’s nerves, get in each other’s way and know too much about each other, but we all love each other.
What makes your store unique: Our carpet. It’s brown, yellow and orange with different flowers all over it. People either love it or hate it. It’s from 1982, when this location became the new home of the bookstore. Some people have childhood memories attached to the carpet.
What are some of the other businesses you frequent in your neighborhood? Doppio, 2nd Wind, Melika, Ruddy Duck, HR Stationers, HR Bagel Co, That’s Swank!, Gorge Dog, Dog River, and Artifacts: Good Books, Bad Art.
What’s the best lunch within walking distance? There are so many great choices! Sixth St. Bistro – amazing food and great Bloody Marys; Double Mountain Brewery – they have the best beer and pizza in town; Celilo – great local ingredients and an amazing menu; and Sage’s Cafe – a great place for a fresh sandwich or bowl of soup.
A CD that would make a great soundtrack for your store? The soundtrack from the movie The Wonder Boys (based on Michael Chabon’s novel)
“Wow!! Power in its RAW form – breathtaking, terrifying, and unstoppable. Freak or rogue waves are being studied by many different branches of science because of the far-reaching consequences they have on human and ocean life. I quote from the book: ‘We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the deep ocean.’ Susan Casey writes non-fiction that is as exciting as any mystery novel – I couldn’t put it down. Anyone who loves water sports will love this book.”
“Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is the best book I have read this year! At the heart, is a forbidden love story of Henry, a Chinese American boy and Keiko a Japanese American girl. They are separated when Keiko and her family are relocated from Seattle to an internment camp during WW II. Henry patiently waits for her to return, despite the utter disapproval of his betrayed parents. Over the next forty years we see some relationships flourish and some slowly deteriorate, both creating stronger characters. For his first novel, Jamie Ford beautifully captures the power of the human heart. This is a must read.”
“Hands down, one of the best books I’ve ever read. This is NOT your traditional Nazi Germany book. With an unusual narrator, the story of Liesel Meminger is beautifully dark. Glimpses of hope force their way in through the books she steals, learning to read them, and the adventures she has with her best friend, Rudy.”
*Sorry, Muir. Waucoma no longer carries coffee beans at the store. Their coffee sales decreased during a street remodel. Also, there are three coffeeshops within a two-block radius of the store.