Aberdeen’s beloved independent bookstore Harbor Books has moved to Hoquiam. Ruth and Greg Zschomler who operated the store from their beautiful historical home on First Street in Aberdeen, decided to move on to other projects and sold the business to Melinda Einander. Harbor Books is now located on 2200 Simpson Avenue and is easy to find for Hoquiam residents and tourists alike.
After operating Harbor Books for almost four years, and after surviving COVID-19, the Zschomlers decided to put the business up for sale. Melinda Einander and her wife Kaide discovered the ad on Melinda’s birthday. “How about getting you a bookstore for your birthday?” suggested Kaide. Booklover Melinda liked the idea and they bought the store. “It was an impulse decision,” the proud new bookstore owner admits.
Does she have any experience in the book sellers industry? Melinda’s answer is simple: “I work on faith.” She grew up in Portland. Her educational and professional background centers on working with children. She holds a M.A. in Elementary Education and has taught Montessori. At his time, Melinda works as Director of Family Ministries at the Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church in Des Moines, which is still operating online due to COVID-19 precautions. Melinda is glad to be able to work her job from the Harbor while she is starting up the bookstore.
Midwife Kaide Einander, opened her business Harbor Community Birth in Hoquiam two and a half years ago. In October, 2020, the Einander family consisting of Kaide, her wife Melinda, and their three younger children moved to Aberdeen. Their 22-year-old daughter has already left home.
In order to gain experience in running a bookstore, Melinda shadowed original owners Ruth and Greg Zschomler at work. She has some business experience assisting Kaide with accounting. In turn, Kaide is helping with social media marketing, an indispensable task for an independent bookstore.
As Melinda purchased the Harbor Books business without the building, she needed to find a new location, which was not easy. She is happy with the space at 2200 Simpson Avenue in Hoquiam, which draws tourists coming from the beach. She has also posted an A-frame sign on Sumner Avenue to attract traffic headed to the beach.
The new Harbor Books store is small, but welcoming and attractive. Not surprisingly, considering the owner’s background, the children’s section is the focus of the space. There is a striking divider wall, painted green, with a large circular opening affording a view on the book shelves behind. “We immediately loved this wall,” says Melinda. “Kaide helped a lot with the decorating. She suggested we build the entire décor around this.” The result is a cozy, kid-friendly space with a little bench in front of the circle window, inviting young readers to sample books. “A good selection for children, teens, families and homeschoolers is very important to me,” Melinda stresses.
Harbor Books carries a general selection of new and used books. There is a shelf dedicated to local authors and another to gift books and journals. Melinda will gladly order anything that is not in stock. She asks customers what they would like to see in the store to customize her selection. Donations of used books are welcome. In the future, Melinda plans to award store credits for used books.
The big question is, of course: “Can you compete with Amazon.com?” ” No, we are not trying to,” Melinda she replies firmly. “People coming here are looking for something different. They are looking for human contact and for books to hold in their hands.” More people are consciously shopping locally today and are delighted to have a beautiful bookstore with personal service in their neighborhood.
Serving the community is a priority for Melinda. She wants Harbor Books to be a place where residents like to meet. A start are book signings with local authors. A book club, story time for children, an open mike night and poetry readings are Melinda’s ideas for the future. She is also considering having small community groups use the space.
A visit from Hoquiam Mayor Ben Winkelman who came in to purchase books for his family was an important sign of local appreciation for Harbor Books. Follow his example and stop in for browsing, shopping, or a chat with Melinda in your beautiful local bookstore. Contact Harbor via email at BooksOnTheHarbor@gmail.com. Find out more on the shop-harbor-books website, on Facebook Harbor Books and Instagram booksontheharbor.
2200 Simpson Avenue, Hoquiam