Port Orchard has a new bookstore and, appropriately, it opened on Independent Bookstore Day.
Terry Heath opened the doors to the Bookshop Under the Stairs on Saturday. The store is located in Towne Square Mall, 1700 SE Mile Hill Dr., Ste. 136, Port Orchard.
The store will offer an assortment of both new and used books. Heath said he’s also looking into offering Espresso and food items, “so people can lounge in here, sip their coffee while they’re looking at books or while they’re looking around. I’m trying to get a feel for what the people are going to respond to.”
Once on their heels due to the emergence of Amazon and other online booksellers, independent bookstores have seen a resurgence in recent years.
“A lot of it’s just the personalized attention that maybe you couldn’t get in the large stores,” Heath said of indie bookstores’ popularity. “A lot of the bookstores are trying to have more community events — book signings, festivals and other things … Any bookstore would love to be a community hub. It’s just a matter of finding where the need is and what your niche is in the community.”
Heath did his part to foster that sense of community, inviting authors and vendors to the bookstore’s grand opening on Saturday. Although Heath didn’t keep an exact count, he estimated that around 200 people visited the store on its first day.
“People were glad to have a bookstore in Port Orchard with new books,” he said. Some customers told him that other bookstores in the area had told them about the new store opening up. “That was nice to see that the bookstores are trying to promote each other for different areas and different focuses,” he said.
Heath has always been drawn to books, he said. As a child he volunteered for both the community and school libraries. He has a Master’s degree in English and has taught English at several community colleges in the area. He owned a used bookstore in Port Orchard in the ‘90s, he added, and was eager to get back into the game.
Emma McCann attended the opening to sell her custom-made bookmarks and page holders, which she sells through her business, Casual Crafty Creations. When she arrived, the store was packed, she said.
"I just think there's something so special about being able to walk in and actually look through what's on the shelves and pick them up," she said.
Port Townsend Author Rachel Fordham was on hand signing copies of her books. She said she was excited to be invited to attend the grand opening.
"The world needs more bookstores, and so many of them have had to close their doors; it's exciting to see another one open," she said.
Fordham said there's nothing quite like picking up a real book in our increasingly internet-connected world.
"There's just nothing like coming and browsing through physical books and looking at the cover and holding them and the smell of books," she said. "Hopefully other people are appreciating that, too."
Her favorite place to hold events like book signings is local bookstores, she said.
"They know their readership and they know the local authors and they help us to meet," she said. "It's a win-win for everyone."
Sarah Hoffman, who attended the grand opening and bought some books, said she likes supporting local bookstores as opposed to large, online booksellers like Amazon. "It's nice to have someplace local to go to," she said. "I definitely spent more here than I meant to, but I am very happy with my purchase."
It was also her first time meeting an author at a book signing, she added, and she left with a signed book.
Customer Amanda Gregory said she also enjoyed the opportunity to speak to an author, and is excited to see what's in store for the shop.
"I can't wait to see how the business grows," she said.