Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Co. Bought by GM Tracy Taylor & Two Partners
Elliott Bay's new owners: (l.-r.) Murf Hall, Tracy Taylor and Joey Burgess
Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash., has been purchased from Peter Aaron by Tracy Taylor, the store's general manager for the past 32 years, and Murf Hall and Joey Burgess of Burgess Hall Group. (Hall and Burgess are married.) The new co-owners also own the newsstand Big Little News, which they opened in 2021 in the nearby Pike/Pine neighborhood.
One of the largest, best bookstores in the country, Elliott Bay was founded in 1973 on Main Street in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood by Walter and Maggie Carr. Peter Aaron joined Elliott Bay in 1999 and became the sole owner in 2001. The store moved to its current 20,000-square-foot location in the Capitol Hill area in 2010.
Aaron said, "It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as steward of this unique and wonderful haven of literature and civility for the past 23 years. I am deeply grateful to our customers, suppliers, and most emphatically to the scores of dedicated and talented booksellers who have sustained and supported the bookstore since its inception. In planning for my exit, my primary concern has been to pass that stewardship on to the right hands, and in Tracy, Murf, and Joey, I'm confident in having succeeded. Their experience, energy, and talents make them ideally suited to ensure that the bookstore will continue to thrive and to maintain the standards and traditions which have been hallmarks of the business throughout the years. I wish them all success and happiness."
Taylor said, "To say Peter has been a constant, steady hand at the helm is a huge understatement. He beautifully navigated so many difficult and unique obstacles over his 23 years at Elliott Bay. We are honored to take the wheel from such an esteemed leader."
Hall commented: "Our intention is to continue much of what Peter has done so successfully during his ownership. Tracy's wealth of institutional knowledge and experience, having worked for more than three decades with the previous owners, is invaluable. Her expertise, combined with the fresh perspective Joey and I bring, will ensure that Elliott Bay will continue to grow and flourish for current and future generations of customers. I'm especially looking forward to bringing new ideas from the world of retail that I've been immersed in for 20 years running."
Hall, former store design director at Nordstrom, also said that opening Big Little News "gave us a great opportunity to solidify our partnership in preparation for the ownership transition at Elliott Bay. Through the success and love of that project, we quickly came to realize just how passionate we were about owning Elliott Bay and knew we were ready for the larger leap when Peter began succession planning."
Taylor, who served with Burgess on Seattle's Small Business Advisory Council, said, too: "We are all deeply committed to the neighborhood. Capitol Hill has experienced explosive growth in recent years, and Elliott Bay has had tremendous opportunities as the neighborhood has changed around it. Amidst the development, Murf and Joey have made thoughtful and intentional investments in the community."
She continued, "We will always be looking at ways to expand and serve the local community through brick and mortar, online sales, author readings, and community events." The new co-owners don't plan on any immediate changes, she noted.
Hall added: "Well, maybe a fresh coat of paint right out of the gate."