On a Friday night in 2014, AnaMaree Ordway saw an ad on Facebook for a used bookstore.
That following Monday, she was officially the new owner of what would eventually become Ye Olde Bookshoppe.
“I wasn’t even looking for a business, I was just putting my feet up to have a beer,” Ordway said.
She first saw the ad just after getting off work as a custodian at Wenatchee Valley College.
“I said something to my husband, and instead of saying ‘Give me 10 years to think about it,’ he said ‘I have the cash,’ ” she said. “Looked at it Saturday, bought in Sunday, quit my job on Monday."
Previously Amanda’s Bookshop, the space on 11 Palouse St. spans multiple rooms. Ordway estimates there are around 100,000 books there.
“The books represent the community, because they all came from somebody here,” Ordway said.
She wanted the rest of the store to follow suit.
“The people who read the books and bring the books, they do other things. And, if it represents the community, not everybody reads. I want everybody to come in here and find something,” she said. “When I bought this place there were lots of books, lots of dust, and random artwork on the walls and I was just thinking ‘This should be covered in local art.’ ”
She had no problem recruiting artists to sell their work in the store, she said. Today at Ye Olde Bookshoppe, you can find art, toys, jewelry, candles, chocolates and more, all handmade by locals.
“We have handmade wooden toys from a little man who has a hidden room down here in the basement. He comes in makes little wooden toys and brings them in here for me to sell,” she said.
The hope is that even those who don’t come looking for something to read can experience the store, finding things to look at and touch.
“It’s a pretty touchable store,” Ordway said. “Very tactile.”
Inspired by the artists in her store, Ordway began crafting herself and now sells her journals and bookmarks at the store. Her granddaughter, Payton, 9, also sells her arts and crafts, and has become a fixture of the store.
It’s no surprise that Ordway is a big reader herself.
“I was an only child way before the internet and I read,” she said. “How do you live without books? You have coffee, you have books, you have oxygen. And chocolate.”
Owning a bookstore seemed like a natural fit, then. Ordway, who has worked in a number of retail positions and office jobs before owning Ye Olde Bookshoppe, said something about working at the bookstore is different.
“At one point I decided I was never going to work days or retail again. I loved janitorial. The hours were great, floors don’t talk back, no public — but a bookstore is completely different. It’s not just average retail,” she said. “I’ve have had fewer people be rude to me in three years at this store than I had in a four-hour shift as a checker in an express lane at a grocery store.”
Ordway said that that is, in part, due to the type of people who shop at her store.
“Book people are just… well, when they’re well-read, they're more open-minded. I get a very diverse crowd in here,” she said. “They’re just more accepting of other people's differences and warm and inviting.”
Her customers have also shaped the space itself. When one regular suggested an open mic for local writers, it became a weekly event. Ordway has artists every First Friday, and regular book signings and readings at the shop, as well. There have even been two impromptu weddings at the bookstore, she said.
“One was not even planned,” she said. “The first was actually planned, a whole week in advance.”
The diversity of clientele surprised her, Ordway said. Specifically, the average age of her customers.
“Under 30, and especially teenagers, are probably a huge majority of my customer base,” she said. “They are better-read than me.”
One customer, Kya Daggatt, 17, visited the store two years ago after a friend recommended it. Now, she visits regularly.
“I try to go as often as I can,” she said. “Not only is it like a really good place to get books, and you’re not contributing waste because it’s all books that have been brought in, but it has a really calming, cozy, home-y vibe.”
Daggatt has purchased books and art at the store. She said sometimes she just hangs out there, and she’s become friends with Ordway.
“It’s a safe place. It just feels really nice and cozy,” Daggatt said.
For Ordway, she said the bookstore is just an extension of herself.
“In the sense that I am always growing, learning and changing,” she said. “So is our community. So is the bookstore.”