|Lacey Anders (l.) and Madison Duckworth at Saltwater Bookshop.
Madison Duckworth and Lacey Anders, co-owners of the Saltwater Bookshop, Kingston, Wash., talk with Shelf Awareness publisher and co-founder Jenn Risko about their store, which opened on Independent Bookstore Day:
Shelf Awareness: Tell us the story of Saltwater Bookshop. How did you come to do this? What was the journey?
Madison: We've been BFF's for for a very long time, I think like 20 years. Lacey grew up in Kingston, and I grew up in Indianola. Lacey worked for Suzanne Droppert at Liberty Bay Books first for about 10 years. Then she left to start her bakery and told me to talk to Suzanne and ask for a job because I had just returned from college. I went into see Suzanne, and she hired me right then and there, and I worked for 10 years under her, and then another year and a half under Suzanne Selfors who bought the store, and helped her in that transition. I stopped working for Suzanne Selfors, because I was very pregnant and needed to take some time off. My son is now two. I started putting books in Lacey's bakery. We started with cookbooks, and then we started adding local-interest titles, and it took off from there. We kept adding more titles to a point where it was taking over the bakery. The space next door to the bakery, which we're in now, was open, but I wasn't ready.
Lacey: I was patiently waiting for Madison to be ready. I knew she'd get there. I thought about just starting to bring books over to the new space so Madison could see it.
Madison: Actually, the landlord was annoyed by us, as this space was open for a while and on the day we told him we wanted the space, he had just hired a property manager to lease it out. He owns the space that Lacey's bakery is in. In January we said, yes, we're doing it, and we opened for Independent Bookstore Day. The store traffic that day was crazy, way more than we ever imagined, and it was very, very cool. It was so great to see friends in the book business that I knew from Liberty Bay.
SA: How big is the store?
Madison: 1,250 square feet. The front is all new adult, and the back is for children's. We will have a very strong local and indigenous section, as we have some very prominent tribes nearby, including the Little Boston S'Klallam and the Suquamish. I love mysteries and fiction.
Lacey: Which is a problem, because Madison and I have very similar taste in books, so it's been a little challenging to get a broader mix. Luckily, we have Nathaniel, who worked at Liberty Bay, and he has very different tastes than us. He's working here on the weekends, so he provides us some variety.
Madison: And of course, Suzanne Droppert is helping, and she reads EVERYTHING.
SA: So Suzanne Droppert is serving as a consultant, friend... sherpa?
Madison: All of the above! We hear ourselves talking sometimes and think, 'Oh that's such a Suzanne thing to say.' Even when I worked at Liberty Bay, her own daughter thought I was her sometimes.
SA: Did you always dream of owning a bookstore?
Lacey: I wanted to buy Liberty Bay from Suzanne, but she sold it to Suzanne Selfors. She thought I was too busy with the bakery, but I always wanted the bookstore. But now I'm glad we didn't go that route, because now we have this! Which is perfect because it's next door.
SA: So you owned a bakery, because you're a baker. But you always wanted to own a bookstore. Those are two of the hardest things you could possibly do, and you wanted to do both of them, because you like the pain?!
Lacey: My first job was editing for June Cotner, a local poet. Her daughter worked for Suzanne at Liberty Bay and wasn't going to be able to work for the summer. She offered to help me get a job at the bookstore. So my 16-year-old self walked down there and said "Hi, I'm here for a job!" And she gave me one! I worked for Suzanne until I was 28, a long time. I always thought I'd buy Liberty Bay, but then I went to Western Washington University and I worked at Village Books for Chuck and Dee Robinson. I majored in English Lit and thought I'd go into publishing.
SA: Well, of course, that's what you do if you want ALL THE MONEY.
Lacey: But then I fell into baking. It's a spiteful story. At the coffee shop, the loaves would come up all different sizes. So I said to the owner, "I could do a better job of this" and she said, "Do you think you could?" And I said, "Yeah. I know how to measure." So I went home and started baking bread, just to prove I could. It escalated from there.
Madison: You started selling your loaves at the farmers market.
Lacey: Yeah. But people would come to our baking location, where we didn't sell directly, and knock on the door and ask what we were doing in there because it smelled so good. We'd tell them, "You can find our products at the Poulsbo Farmers Market." I was so tired, baking all the time and being pregnant and then having a baby. Finally we got to: What are we doing here? People are coming to our door, asking to buy our stuff, and we're not selling it to them! That was in 2011, and now we have our retail location. It's called The Borrowed Kitchen Bakery.
SA: What is the bestselling item from your bakery?
Lacey: Our chocolate cake.
Madison: It's like the chocolate cake from Matilda.
SA: I love you tying baked goods to beloved books!
Madison: We partner by offering a free cookie for spending $25 in the bookstore. That's working well. We'll be doing events and readings, book clubs, and educator nights.
Lacey: I'm obsessed with what the Book Larder [the cookbook store in the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle] does. We'd love to do events with cooking. Focus on methods like baking, noodles, the wok.
Madison: We want to put a hole in the wall, so there's a pass through between the bakery and the bookstore. We'll keep them mostly separated because the bakery is so noisy and the bookstore should stay quiet.