Business Of The Week: Edmonds Bookshop

Personal touches keep customers coming back.

If independent bookstores are supposed to be dying, no one has informed the folks at Edmonds Bookshop.

Since 1972, the modest venue at 111 5th Ave. S. has been a favorite haunt of locals and visitors alike.

"It's very personal, very nice. They give me good recommendations," said Joanne, a North Seattle customer who has been stopping in for the past half-dozen years.

Other regular clients order books shipped to their homes in Florida, Arkansas and California, said Juliet Brewster, daughter of owner Mary Kay Sneeringer.

"I think people just come here, and they make a connection," said Brewster, a college student working part-time one recent Saturday. "They trust Mary Kay to pick good books for them."

The store carries a mix of new and used titles, personally chosen by Sneeringer from industry catalogs and customer recommendations. There are more fiction selections than non-fiction ones, including three sections of mysteries and two for children's fantasy.

Inside space is well-utilized. Yellow walls and bright blue and red posts help create a light, airy atmosphere. On one side of the shop is a nook containing paperback picture books and a restroom. At the rear are a children's section and a comfortable chair for adult browsers.

"I feel like it's a kid-friendly store," said Edmonds resident Grace Atmajian, who was reading to her 4-year-old son, Benjamin Irish. "Most small bookstores are either specialists or used. They do a bit of everything here."

Edmonds Bookshop last changed hands 10 years ago, when Sneeringer and husband David Brewster bought it from the husband-and-wife team of Susan and Barry Hildebrandt.

Susan Hildebrandt still works at the store, commuting three times a week from her Poulsbo home. "They couldn't get rid of me," she joked.

Hildebrandt said the number of children's titles has expanded since the sale, but otherwise the store is much the same.

It hosts a book discussion group twice a month, as well as regular readings by local authors. Frequent buyers receive a "booker's dozen" discount -- the average cover price of each 12 books they buy as a credit toward their next purchase.

Free gift-wrapping is available throughout the year. The staff can order any titles not in stock, and will ship books anywhere -- with a small gift card if desired.

Edmonds Bookshop carries books for the Edmonds School District's International Baccalaureate program, and also offers student discounts.

Such touches help keep fiercely loyal bibliophiles away from the large chain stores at Alderwood Mall.

"It's phenomenal how this community supports this bookstore," Juliet Brewster said.

Like the TV bar on "Cheers" ("... where everybody knows your name"), Atmajian said it's nice to be recognized when she comes into the shop.

"I saw something that I wanted the other day," she said, "and I thought, 'I've got to go down and support my local bookstore so it doesn't close.'"

Paddy Eger January 12, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Edmonds Bookstore is an institution worth every ounce of our support. The people are friendly, helpful and know 'their stuff'. Every small town should be so lucky! Thanks for sticking around.
Maureen Batali January 14, 2011 at 09:19 PM
I love this bookstore! Great selection and they are always happy to try to track down that hard-to-find book you are looking for. It's people friendly and dog friendly and they'll even wrap your purchase if you need it! If you are looking for a used copy of something they can research that, too. What a treasure we have! Buy local and keep your dollars here supporting our little town.


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