Two of the country’s most iconic bookstores are about to change hands, Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham, Wash., and Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle.
Kramerbooks has already begun an expansion as part of the transition. Later this week it will open an 800 sq. ft. children’s book annex next door in what had previously been Willie T’s Lobster Shack.
As reported by the Washington Post, 33-year-old Steve Salis, cofounder of the local chain &pizza, which recently received $25 million in venture capital to expand to New York City, will take over the 40-year-old bookstore and restaurant in the first half of 2017. Cofounder David Tenney will retain part ownership.
The children’s area is only the beginning of Kramerbooks’s expansion, which is intended to combine the restaurant with the bookstore, which currently have separate entrances. Over the next 18 months Salis also plans to add a coffee bar, increase the events space, and grow the cookbooks, history, and nonfiction sections.
On January 1 Chuck and Dee Robinson, who founded Village Books in 1980, will transfer ownership to the store’s management team—husband and wife Paul Hanson, general manager, and Kelly Evert, who handles general management; and manager Sarah Hutton, who was the store’s children’s book buyer for a number of years.
Village Books had an expansion of its own when it opened a satellite store in nearby Lynden last holiday season.
Chuck Robinson will continue to consult with the stores over the next few years and to direct special projects. He also intends to do some business consulting with bookstores and other retail businesses. Both he and Dee Robinson will continue to be involved with the Chuckanut Radio Hour.
A combined reception for the new owners and farewell to the Robinsons will take place at the Fairhaven store on Saturday, February 4, and at the Lynden location on Sunday, February 5. Evert, Hanson, and Hutton are also planning a series of meet-and-greets over coffee and pastries at both stores during the month of February.