This month Dudley’s Bookshop Café is celebrating 50 years of bookselling in Downtown Bend. It is rare for any retail business to survive for 50 years, but in a town that has seen as many changes as Bend, Oregon, to have an independent bookstore as a downtown fixture for so long is even more surprising.
Founded originally as The Book Barn in 1973—across the street from its current location– the store closed in 2007 and reopened in 2008 as Dudley’s Bookshop Café in honor of the then- owner’s beloved English springer spaniel, Dudley. At that time, the shop also added an espresso bar and began to become the “third space” community anchor it is today.
Over the last half- century, the shop and its multiple owners have faced many challenges, including: the end of the local lumber mills, the driving force of the local economy for decades; the housing bubble collapse in 2008 which brought 17% unemployment to Bend; the rise of Amazon; and, most recently, the impacts of the pandemic and rising rents.
Through it all, a small group of dedicated booksellers on 135 NW Minnesota Avenue has continued to share their passion for a good read and interesting conversation.
“I’m really humbled when I think about all the people that have come through these doors, all the support this town has shown us,” said Tom Beans, the owner since 2015. “I think about all the businesses that have come and gone, and all the ways this could have gone sideways over the last 50 years. For Dudley’s to be here through all of it is pretty incredible.”
Dudley’s plans to celebrate this milestone with events throughout August and the rest of the year, including author events, giveaways, and—for the first time since the pandemic—the return of live music.
[They’re even having a beautiful mural painted by Megan Marie Meyers!]