Day 2 Wednesday March 25
We woke Wednesday in misty Astoria wondering what day it was. The numerous bookstores we visited on our first day on the road made it seem like it must be well beyond the actual 24 hours spent so far. Assured by our sensibilities, we wandered to the nearest coffee shop with our map and list of bookstores to make the day’s plan from which to deviate.
Once nourished, we took our morning walk directly to Godfather’s Books just 4 blocks down the main street. They open early at Godfather’s, so at 9 a.m. we were among the shelves of new & used books and curiosities that kept us occupied for the next hour. We both discovered books we couldn’t leave without.
After a stop in a lovely Scandinavian gift shop, it was time to depart this great seaside town to head back inland toward Vancouver to visit Becky who just completed two terms on the PNBA board of directors. Her bookstore, Vintage Books, was easy to find even with being tucked back in the corner of a row of other stores. Once we entered, we were greeted by Becky, Pepper and Mark (all devoted booksellers). Becky toured us around, first introducing us to the cat whose favorite spot seems to be an open desk drawer. Vintage Books has a wonderful collection of new, used and classic books. It would take more time than we had to peruse all the enticing offerings but we did manage to leave with an armload of books and plenty of warm hugs.
We were sufficiently behind schedule as we drove up I-5 toward Chehalis and David & Beverly’s bookstore, Book ‘n’ Brush. David, a current PNBA board member had alerted his staff to our arrival. We were greeted by Sherry, Melissa, Catherine and Mara in the same warm manner they greeted all of their patrons who walked into the shop. David toured us through the shop which is housed in a century-plus old building with a history too long to print here! Books ‘n’ Brush is quite spacious and includes a framing area in what used to be a butcher shop. In addition to all the creative spaces within the bookstore, he took us upstairs where we found an art class in session. David is an avid supporter of his local community and neighboring businesses. After an evening of delightful conversation and a scrumptious meal, we bid adieu to a fellow bookseller and friend.
It wasn’t difficult to settle into our room at the McMenamin’s Olympic Hotel for the night. Even the midnight trains passing thru Centralia couldn’t cause us to stir. I know we’ll be dreaming about tomorrow’s bookstores as we doze off.
Day 3, March 26, 2015, Centralia WA
As of last night, we’ve logged 358 miles at an average of 48 mpg.
It’s a gorgeous blue-sky day and we’re on the road at 11 am. We’ve already visited two used bookstores, Tilikum Books and Anderson’s Book Co. (ABC). They live across the street from the Olympic Hotel on Centralia’s Tower Street. ABC has just moved and is set to open this weekend. Both owners are friendly and invite us in.
Then we are off, across the Cascades on Highway 12, the White Pass Scenic Byway. We pass lakes, rivers, dams and Mt. St. Helens, and end up in Yakima at Inklings. Susan, the owner for 15 years, graciously takes us on a tour of her well laid out store and we meet her staff, Alicia, Sue, and Emily. The store is the only new books store in Yakima. It is big and sits as an island spark amidst other businesses. It stands out.
By the way, Maggie is our expert navigator, map-reader and road interpreter. Leigh Ann drives the car without incident, thank goodness.
It’s almost 5 pm when we pull into Ellensburg and Central Washington University bookstore’s parking lot. Steve, the manager, is closing the doors when we walk up, but he lets us in. The store has been recently remodeled and has a great gift boutique. Steve tells us the general book area is shrinking. More gifts and clothing fill the space once owned by general books. Many college bookstore trade sections are dwindling to non-existence. Sad but true.
Next we visit Rolf, Rachel and Erin, as well as Ted E. Bear (he’s very big, soft and stuffed) at Jerrol’s Book and Office Supply Company. They have a great selection of office and art supplies and stock general books as well as very good ice cream (tested). Jerrol’s recently added an events room that is getting more and more use. They are remodeling and the staff tells us about the three-generation family that has always owned and run the store. Jerrol’s used to be known as an alternative to Central’s bookstore for purchasing textbooks, but Rolf said they couldn’t compete with Amazon or the university store.
We discover 3 more bookstores in Ellensburg, but it’s late in the day and most are closed. We will catch them in the morning: Pearl Street Books, Brick Road Books and Bailey’s Bibliomania and then on to Wenatchee and Chelan.
In all, we’ve visited 12 bookstores in 3 days and will add at least 6 more. Maybe we’ll make it an even 20!
Day 4, March 27
We woke Friday shroud in the quiet fog of an Ellensburg morning. Our intentions for the day included a stop at Pearl Street Books and Gifts before heading north along the Columbia River toward Chelan. We arrived precisely at opening time to find Michelle already involved in her daily routines. With 40 years in book selling, Pearl Street Books is a glowing reflection of her experience. Book posters, recent and past adorn the high walls of this cozy space. Ascending the staircase brings you to a loft decorated with local art, also offering a large table where several area book groups hold their regular gatherings. Michelle stocks new books, as well as a variety of lovely gift items. This was definitely the right way to begin our day.
Leaving Ellensburg, we followed highway 97 north in the direction of Wenatchee. This road wound along creeks, thru mountain passes and high desert finally giving way to Cashmere and then Wenatchee. We found Amanda’s Book Store on the far end of town. Bob, Amanda’s father greeted us from behind the counter, telling us that Amanda had just sold the store to some local people who were taking ownership in just a few days. What initially appeared to be one room of books turned into several rooms, each filled with shelves of carefully organized titles of quality used books. Before leaving, one of the new owners dropped by with that unmistakable enthusiasm of a new proprietor. We left, gripping more found treasures, navigating our way to points further north…. Lake Chelan.
The temperature creeped up to 70 as we drove thru the beautiful apple country of central Washington. Finding Riverwalk Books on the main street in Chelan was easy, with its inviting storefront. Inside, we found our longtime friend Libby behind the counter.
Our tour of the shop revealed the set from a local play that is now a permanent backdrop for book displays, an ornate Santa’s chair tucked in an upstairs corner and a generous assortment of innovative gifts. The love of children is evident in her collection of books and gifts for young people.
We experienced the appreciation of her customers as we introduced ourselves to local business owners along the Main Street. It appears that everyone in Chelan knows Libby. Since establishing Riverwalk Books in 1994, Libby has continued to dedicate herself and her bookstore to the wellbeing of her community. It’s definitely working!
After a nice dinner with Libby at a local restaurant (the server is a part-time employee at Riverwalk), we wandered back to our hotel on Lake Chelan for a peaceful night’s sleep with thoughts of the road tomorrow that will lead us back to the west side of the mountains.
That’s it from the road…
–Maggie and Leigh Ann
For more from Maggie Freitag and Leigh Ann Giles, booksellers, bookstore tourists, and former Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association board members, see their first post from their bookstores-of-the-northwest trip.