Ruth’s Bookstore Safari, Part II: Just in Time for the Party!
1714 NE Broadway
Visit: 20 May, 2017
In Portland, I was able to hit four amazing bookstores. The first was the bijou Broadway Books. Broadway Books is a small indie store, fortuitously located on a busy and popular stretch of the street for which it’s named. (It’s also across from my favourite brunch place, the Cadillac Café, where the food is always excellent and satisfying, the staff pleasant and courteous, and the Cadillac pink and operable.)
The store-front windows of Broadway Books make the shop light and airy, and its well-organized shelves draw customers on to explore the next book, the next topic, the next table. Over the shelves hang poster-sized covers of other volumes for which readers might want to search.
One of our authors, Paula Butterfield, lives in Portland, and she gave me a heads-up that the store was going to be celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary while I was in town, and I put the party on my calendar. However, I couldn’t help stopping by a couple times before the anniversary fête. Despite its small size, the book selection never feels inadequate. I made four trips into the store, and each time came out with a book or two, cards and postcards, or beautiful wrapping paper. The staff were invariably charming and helpful. I make particular mention of Rose, who was kind and informative both times I encountered her there.
The birthday party on Saturday made it obvious what a community asset the store is. I met a trio of women who had been friends for forty years. Regular customers milled about, chatting, talking books with the owners and staff, having their photos taken at the picture booth set up for the day, and eating cake and drinking champagne. Despite the bustle of the celebration, I saw the staff continuously assisting customers by making recommendations and finding books. One of the owners (alas! I did not discover which one) asked everyone there to please go out and tell the story of their book store, and I am happy to comply with that request here.
Do check out the website for the history of the store (http://www.broadwaybooks.net/our-story) and a calendar of events (http://www.broadwaybooks.net/event). But the best, most moving tribute to the store can be found on its wall, in the form of a paean by Brian Doyle. It perfectly captures the magic Broadway Books holds for anyone who enters.