Lucys Books small facade next to the Liberty Theater in downtown Astoria looks unassuming, until you see visiting literary luminaries.
Former Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts, Oregonian columnist David Sarasohn, syndicated sex advice columnist Dan Savage, H.G. Bissinger of Friday Night Lights and many other local luminaries their names and readings adorn the walls above the relatively small collection of books and knickknacks at the local gem.
Its new owner, Patti Breidenbach, just started her first business venture on somewhat of a whim, much like the owner for 13 years before her, Laura Snyder.
Breidenbach, a studio artist mostly dabbling in oil and watercolors, looks to bring her own artistic element to the store. Shes busy creating a new store logo a mermaid with her flipper wrapped around Lucys Books and preparing for Astoria Art Walk events in November, hanging local paintings on the second-floor mezzanine overlooking the rest of the browsing room.
Whats going to keep this bookstore going is my personality, she said.
Her husband Mark Breidenbach leisurely scanned the pages of The Daily Astorian in Meridian, Idaho in late June. The couple has subscribed to the paper from afar for at least five years, knowing they would one day make a home at the mouth of the Columbia River. Perusing the classifieds, he happened upon a bookstore for sale by owner.
I said That sounds like Patti, he said. Shes always liked books and she could do that. Its also getting her where she wants to be.
Snyder listed the store only two weeks before.
Mark Breidenbach called his wife, who was staying in a motor home at the Hammond Marina RV Park on vacation, and told her about the opportunity. Both she and Snyder had similar takes on the timing.
It was serendipitous, said Snyder.
It was fortuitous and in the cosmos, said Patti Breidenbach.
They discussed the terms and set a date. in August, Snyder left everything on the shelves and handed Patti Breidenbach the keys.
It really felt like a time for a change, said Snyder. I had really never had a job for five years. I felt like there are other things Id like to.
Patti Breidenbach was happy to take over.
I followed (Mark) all around the county, she said. Now its his turn to follow me.
She and her husband, an accountant for Weyerhaeuser, hopped around from Idaho, Oregon, North Carolina, Virgina and back to Idaho, following his work.
They finally landed back in Idaho, a semblance of home to both, and Patti Breidenbach started a 15-year teaching career.
I liked the kids, but I didnt like the bureaucracy, she said.
She left her teaching job this year and took the trip to Hammond. Her husband was laid off from Weyerhauser around the same time.
Everything lined up for the move to their new home.
Mark Breidenbach, still in Idaho packing up their belongings, said the business is his wifes, although hell help when he can. Im going to be looking for employment as an accountant locally.
Lucys new owner is still settling into her business, learning how to keep track of a collection of books almost all bought by Snyder. Her husband talked her into possibly getting an electric scanner to keep track of the books, a small step into the new age of bookstore ownership.
Patti Breidenbach said her store will survive the new age and all its e-readers, because people still enjoy the feel of a paperback in their hands, the smell and turning the pages. Snyder gave the same reasoning.
The bookseller that came before me said customers will tell you what you need, she said.
Snyder of course meant Barbara Hansel, owner of Parnassus Books, which left town around 1998, the same time Lucys Books was opened.
These days, Snyder takes her daughter back and forth from school, still serves on the Astoria School Board and keeps volunteering at various places. Shes still unsure about her next job, waiting until after the holidays.
Small business comes with its stresses, she said. I think my next working incarnation will be for someone else.
Meanwhile, Lucys Books looks the same, albeit with some added artwork and Breidenbachs dachsund Helga hiding under the counter.
She is bringing in Dina James, a paranormal writer releasing her first full-length novel All Wounds, to read some passes at 6 tonight. In December, there will also be a reading for moms, dads, and kids by Adam Taylor, author of the illustrated story George in the UK.