Expanded seating, more books planned for larger retail space
By Don Nelson
Trail’s End Bookstore will relocate a few steps down Winthrop’s boardwalk when the business moves to the former White Buck Trading Company building in October.
The move will more than double the space that Trail’s End now occupies, co-owner Christine Janikowski said this week. She said that the store’s book inventory will be expanded, and that more seating space will be provided for book browsers.
Christine and her husband, Patrick, purchased the bookstore business from Ken Libby and Julie Tate-Libby in February 2013. They have been leasing the space from building owners Brian and Amy Sweet, who also own the Cascades Outdoor Store across Riverside Avenue from Trail’s End.
Until recently, the bookstore was managed by the Janikowskis’ son Christopher, who has moved back to New York. Abiline Hagee, a longtime Trail’s End employee, now manages the store, Christine Janikowski said. “She and I collaborate well,” Janikowski said of Hagee.
Janikowski and her husband own a house on Wolf Creek Road. They live in Seattle and own an architectural firm there.
The owners want to “create an environment where people might want to linger a little longer” in the new space, Janikowski said. At its current location, the store has little room for seating other than an outside deck that overlooks the Chewuch River.
Janikowski said the bookstore is doing well now after some struggles, but added that she and her husband are not in the business to make a lot of money. When they learned in 2012 that Trail’s End might close if the business weren’t sold, she said, “We thought, ‘that bookstore can’t close.’ We wanted to give something back to the community.”
Janikowski noted that, after a steady decline, the independent bookstore business seems to be making a comeback. According to the American Bookseller Association, she said, overall revenues are growing and new stores are opening — a reversal of recent trends.
Space for kids
After the move in October, she added, Trail’s End hopes to host book clubs and other community groups looking for a gathering spot. “Hopefully, we’ll become a destination,” she said.
Another plan is to expand the children’s book section. “We want to have space for kids to sprawl and hang out,” she said.
Plans for the move are already underway, Janikowski said, including some renovation of the White Buck Trading Company building, owned by the Lester family. The Lesters operated the business for more than 20 years before announcing its closure in 2014.
The White Buck was known for novelty items and Western-themed gifts. It also included an antiques store and museum of locally historic artifacts. The Lesters had an auction in September 2015 to liquidate antique items from their collection.
Shotgun Nellies, a Western-themed home decor and gift shop, relocated to the White Buck building in 2015 and now occupies a portion of the former retail space.
Meanwhile, the Sweets are optimistic about landing a new tenant for the bookstore building, which they purchased in 2007.
“We’re reaching out to movers and shakers in the community,” Brian Sweet said this week. He noted that there are only 34 commercial buildings in the heart of Winthrop along Riverside Avenue, and the Trail’s End spot is in the center of it.
“We’re hoping for someone who wants to launch a new business, or expand or move,” Sweet said. “We want something that’s stable, long-term and an asset to Winthrop.”
Before Trail’s End moved to its current location, it was in what is now the Nordic Ultratune building. Before that, it was in what is now the Wine Shed in the building next to Nordic Ultratune.