Pelican Bay Books

There are numerous places you can go to find a book: the library, a chain bookstore, an independent bookstore, even a thrift sale if you don’t mind rummaging. But a used bookstore is special—a kind of book sanctuary favored by the most avid readers. A well-run bookstore stocks books of every genre, and hard-to-find works. Books are meticulously reviewed for stray marks and missing pages. The staff is knowledgeable and passionate about their work. It’s a place you can finally locate that elusive special-edition copy from the 1930s, and stumble upon a new favorite author, perhaps a New York Times bestseller from last year.

Anacortes’s Pelican Bay Books is that book-lover’s sanctuary. After nearly a decade of operating from a charming house on the corner of 9th St. and O Ave., the store is moving back to Commercial Ave. The new space is twice as large but just as cozy, with a working fireplace and overstuffed leather armchairs.

The owners, Eli Barrett and Brooklynd Johnson, met while attending Gonzaga University. After college, the two went their separate ways: Eli, an economics and philosophy major, travelled the world while Brooklynd, a business administration major, took Spokane’s nightlife industry by storm first as a well-known bartender, then as a bar owner.

In 2011 they found themselves in Spokane, in love, and expecting a daughter. Wanting to raise their family somewhere special, they moved to Anacortes. Eli began working temporarily for Pelican Bay’s previous owner, Kevin Green. just as he had done as a teenager. Eighteen months later, on January 1, 2013 after a lot of debate and, as Eli describes, “lots and lots of hours on Excel crunching numbers” the couple bought the bookstore.

Pelican Bay Books sells only used books. The extensive collection likely has what you’re looking for: fiction, philosophy, gardening, mystery, you name it and there’s likely a shelf dedicated to the genre. Every book needs to pass Eli and Brooklynd’s careful curation. They buy about 90% of the inventory from people looking to sell personal collections. Less than 10% of all offers appear on the store’s shelves. That’s because the couple is extremely picky about condition, which makes their books less “used” and more “previously loved.”

The new space allows them to carry even more books, and the addition of a coffee bar, wi-fi, and seating area persuades patrons to linger. Guests can choose from a simple menu of Olympia Coffee Roasters espresso, tea, and chocolate chip cookies made by the owners. Once settled, Eli plans to expand the light fare menu to include charcuterie and pastries with a French Moroccan flair. Eli explained, “The goal the whole time has been to make the bookstore a cultural center because books attract interesting, creative, curious people.”

He added, as any avid reader and bookstore patron knows, that “we’re always learning about really cool people and learn about things we wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.”

520 Commercial Ave., Anacortes 360.293.1852

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"It's a place where you can finally locate that elusive special-edition copy from the 1930s, and stumble upon a new favorite author,"