I just got off the phone with Elliott Bay Book Company owner Peter Aaron, and he's finally confirmed it: Just like we reported back in October, Elliott Bay Book Company will be moving from Pioneer Square to a new location on Capitol Hill: 1521 10th Avenue, right next to Oddfellow's Hall between Pike and Pine.
Aaron's not sure of the exact dates just yet, but the bookstore will close its Pioneer Square location "probably sometime in February" and reoopen "probably mid-March" after two weeks of moving books and fixtures to the new location. The new location will be 19,000 square feet, slightly smaller than the current store's 20,000 square feet, but Aaron notes that "the selling area will be about 15,000 square feet, which is bigger than the current location."
The new space will have 25 parking spaces below street level, and another 60 surface-level spaces around the corner. Aaron confirms that there will be a cafe in the new space, and he says "I haven't decided yet" if the new bookstore will carry used books in addition to new books.
Aaron sent us a copy of the letter that will be going live on Elliott Bay's website this evening, and it's after the jump. I have fuller analysis right here, and I'll continue adding my thoughts in the days to come.
A NEW CHAPTER
After many weeks of speculation about the future of The Elliott Bay Book Company, I am now able to confirm that the book store will be moving to a new location on Capitol Hill in the spring of next year.
The past two years have been a difficult, painful period of exploring and evaluating possibilities in an attempt to determine what would be best—and necessary—to ensure the long-term health and vitality of the store. And while the thought, and the practicalities, of moving from the site and the locale which have been home for the past 36 years are daunting to say the least, I am convinced that this upcoming relocation will afford us the best opportunity to remain, and further develop as a thriving enterprise.
First—about the new location. We will be moving into a beautiful vintage building on 10th Avenue between Pike and Pine. The building dates from 1918—and was the original Ford truck service center for Seattle. The space will be comparable to the current store (in fact a bit larger), and will incorporate a café and a room dedicated to author appearances. It has the fir floor—complete with creaks—we’re used to treading, and gorgeous high wood ceiling—including massive wood beams—and skylights. While no space could exactly duplicate the charm of the original store, I can promise that the new building will offer a warm, comfortable and cozy environment that will be true to the beautiful place Walter Carr founded on Main Street.
The building has its own parking below street level—and between this and a nearby lot, we will be able to provide ample validated parking. In addition the new space will offer something we’ve never been able to offer before—wheelchair access to all levels.
The neighborhood is one of incredible vitality. I’m confident that this move will boost our business to the level necessary to maintain our commercial viability—and to facilitate the ongoing investment necessary to keep any business vital.
It will be sad for us all to leave a building—and a neighborhood—that have been our home for all these years. For those who can’t imagine us anyplace else, believe me—all of us at the store have had to wrestle through that. Moving the store is the second-last thing I would want to see happen. Seeing the store close would be the only thing worse. The fact is that the business has been eking downward for the past several years, and the steeper decline of the past two years has made it clear that if the book store is to survive, it must be in a location that affords the vibrancy (especially in the evenings), parking, population base, and freedom from conflict with the sporting events—all of which characterize the new site.
When I first became involved in the ownership of Elliott Bay eleven years ago, it was because I believed fervently that this gem, which had been “my” bookstore since I first moved here twenty-seven years ago, was worth saving—that it was a precious asset that must and, in fact, could flourish in this city—if anywhere on earth. Since that time I have done my best to be a faithful steward in preserving both the spirit and the body of this unique place which has been built and nourished cooperatively by the generations of booksellers who have worked here over the years and the book-lovers who have supported us—here in Seattle, across the country and indeed around the world. I’m inexpressibly grateful for that ongoing support—and most especially for the outpouring of concern and commitment we’ve received in recent months. We’re committed to doing everything in our power to continue to earn your patronage and support.
Even as we work toward this significant change, we will strive to do our best to stay focused day-to-day on our primary calling: putting books in readers’ (your) hands. This includes the full regimen of author readings. To us, this is less about ending or beginning than about continuing, developing and deepening what we can offer to a community of devoted readers.
We will post progress reports on the new location and ongoing updates on the exact timing of the move on the website (www.elliottbaybook.com). I welcome the opportunity to address any questions or comments you may have.
Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 10th Avenue on Capitol Hill in Seattle (Circa. 1936)