Roughly 25 years ago, Ruth Klein, a retired real estate agent from Portland, moved to Enumclaw and opened a used bookstore called Railroad Street Books at Myrtle and Railroad streets. When Ruth passed away, her family ran the operation for a time, then sold it to someone else who, in turn, sold it three years ago to the current owners, Susan and Mike Lissy, who changed its name to The Sequel.
Perhaps many of you have never been in the place, even though you’ve walked by it a countless number of times on your way to Rendezvous or the Day Spa.
Though Susie had never operated a business, she’d always been fond of literature and trading and selling books was very appealing to her. So, while her husband was away part of each day doing whatever he did, Susie took care of the store.
Actually, the business program isn’t especially complex. When a customer comes in with a used book that’s in reasonably good condition, Susan buys it for one-fourth the cover price, not in cash, but in store credit; that is, the customer can select another used book for a small fee. Though there are exceptions, Susan very rarely buys used books for cash.
A few weeks ago, the whole enterprise packed up and left the Railroad Street location and moved into the space vacated by a Christian bookstore at Cole Street and Initial Avenue. Today, Susie is selling new best-sellers along with her used books and, if you want a current book that she doesn’t have, she’ll be happy to order it for you.
Granted, this doesn’t seem like a particularly good time to open a first-class bookstore. (And make no mistake, this place is first class.) Major branches of international corporations like Borden’s and Barnes and Noble are going broke left and right. Locally, Black Diamond’s Baker Street Books, Linden’s Bookstore, and the Christian bookstore have all folded up in the last couple years. It seems like modern readers prefer their books online as opposed to hard-cover. However, according to Susan, there’s evidence to suggest that the popularity of on-line novels has peaked. After all, there’s something to be said – though I’m not sure what – for curling up on your couch with an authentic book.
Of course, Susan clearly realizes that her main business rival is Amazon. But, bearing in mind the shipping costs, she can challenge Bezos and at least keep things competitive.
Her new location offers a pleasant reading room with comfortable easy-chairs and a little gas stove. The place will still be available for the monthly meetings of local poets and she plans to initiate a book club.
On top of everything else, she brews an excellent latté. Consistently so. That’s reason enough to stop by The Sequel.