The world truly is at your fingertips inside one of Camas’ newest small businesses.
Searching for an escape to a magical realm? A sweet tale of young love? Research-based parenting tips? Richly illustrated graphic novels? A scary story perfect for this month’s season of ghosts, goblins and ghouls?
Bookish, an independent bookshop that opened in downtown Camas this summer, likely has exactly what you’re looking for.
In an online description of her new business, Camas’ only independent bookshop, owner Melissa Peake describes Bookish as “a small store celebrating our community’s children and young adults … using every page to grow our world view, grow our imaginations and inspire our up-and-coming leaders.”
Peake’s love of books — particularly those geared toward children, middle readers, teens and parents — is apparent inside the cozy pet-shop-turned-bookshop space on Camas’ Northeast Fifth Avenue.
“I’ve always loved reading,” Peake said. “My mom owned a salon in Vancouver and Vintage Books was (nearby). I’d go over there and sit in the corner and read.”
When she became a mother — Peake and her husband, Tyler, are the parents of three: Hudson, 12; Foster, 10; and Florence, 8 — this lifelong book lover naturally wanted to share her passion with her own children. That’s when she discovered her options in the Camas area were pretty limited. Peake loved the local library, but when it came to taking her children to a bookstore, she had to drive out of town, usually heading into Portland to browse at Powell’s Books in Northwest Portland or at Green Bean Books off Northeast Alberta Street.
Those outings were fun, but Peake began to crave a closer option. She dreamed of opening her own bookshop and set her sights on downtown Camas’ thriving small-business corridor.
“I started talking to the Downtown Camas Association and became a member of the American Booksellers Association,” Peake said. “Carrie (Schulstad, the director of the DCA), was so excited and helpful. She started looking for possible (spaces in Camas’ historic downtown).”
When Naturally Healthy Pet moved from its longtime storefront at 335 N.E. Fifth Ave., to a larger space a few blocks away, off Northeast Cedar Street, Peake jumped at the chance to take over the former pet shop.
With the help of friends and family, she transformed the shop into a space that is warm and welcoming to customers of all ages. A side room offers a couch and cozy chairs around a table — as well as a small coffee bar — for customers who want to settle in. And Peake has crafted a cozy space in the main room for her weekend storytimes.
Peake is hoping her weekend storytimes inside Bookish will appeal to parents who might not might not be able to attend similar weekday events at the local library.
The bookshop owner has had plenty of practice helping youngsters’ imaginations soar. Before enrolling her own children at Camas’ Helen Baller Elementary and Odyssey Middle schools, Peake’s family opted to homeschool. The experience exposed Peake not only to the wide world of curriculum and non-fiction children’s books, but also to the importance of connecting books to more hands-on activities. Now, Peake is using some of those homeschooling lessons to kick her storytimes up a few notches with related craft projects like veggie stamping on the week she read “Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas” and making cat masks after reading “Fluffy McWhiskers: Cuteness Explosion.”
Some of Peake’s original ideas for the new bookshop have shifted after learning more about her customers and the community’s needs. For instance, though she originally thought she would offer used books in the shop’s backroom, once she realized many Camas customers were craving more comic-style books, Peake filled the room with richly illustrated graphic novels and manga books (Japanese style graphic novels and comics).
She also stocks some new-releases for adult readers as well as a variety of research-based parenting books. And, of course, as an independent bookseller, Peake can always order a book for customers who can’t find what they’re looking for inside the Camas bookshop.
With the winter holidays coming up, many Camasonians may be pleased to note that Peake offers free gift-wrapping inside her bookshop, and can help customers pull together themed gifts.
The new Camas bookshop, located at 335 N.E. Fifth Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. The shop is closed on Monday and Tuesday. Peake plans to have extended hours during certain downtown Camas events, including the DCA’s monthly First Friday.
Bookish will host storytimes on the weekends: a “Little Literary” storytime at 9 a.m. on Saturday geared toward newborns through 2.5 year olds; a preschool storytime at 10 a.m. on Saturday best for children ages 2.5 years to 5 years; and a family storytime at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday for all ages. Additionally, Peake will host a pajama party at 6 p.m. for all ages on the third Friday of each month.
Peake does ask for a $5 donation per “walking kiddo” for the story/craft events, held at 10 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as the 11:30 session on Sunday. “This is an appreciated donation and no one will be turned away,” Peake recently wrote on Bookish’s Instagram page.
For more information, visit Bookish in person at 335 N.E. Fifth Ave., in downtown Camas, online at itsbookish.com, or on social media at facebook.com/itsbookish/ and at instagram.com/itsbookishbooks/.
The DCA will host a ribbon-cutting celebration for Bookish during its October “Pumpkin Pageant and Harry Potter Costume Contest” themed First Friday event, which takes place throughout downtown Camas from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7.