Waucoma Bookstore, Hood River, Ore., Moves to Temporary Space During Remodel
Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River, Ore., has relocated to a temporary space while its permanent home undergoes a remodel.
Owners Jenny and Muir Cohen moved into the temporary space at Columbia Center for the Arts in early January and plan to be back in the store's original location by the end of the month. The remodel has been extensive, with the Cohens reporting that they're replacing the bookstore's old shelves and fixtures and changing the store's layout, along with painting the walls and ceiling, putting in a new floor and making changes to the store's office and storage areas.
Prior to the remodel, the cash wrap was in the center of the store, which limited the team's ability to do events, as they had to be held in the front or back half of the store. The bookcase configuration made it "very awkward," and "it took a lot of time to set up for an event since none of the fixtures were on wheels."
When the original space reopens, the cash wrap will be located along the perimeter wall, and there will be full height bookshelves around the rest of the perimeter. All of the fixtures in the middle of the store will be on wheels, and staff and customers will be able to see throughout the entire store.
The new bookcases, the Cohens continued, will each have a slat wall in the back, so the team can "easily move sections around and display both books and nonbook items together." The old shelves were all nailed together, "so there was no way to make adjustments for different products or oversized books." Over time, the nails in those shelves also began to stick out a little, which caused lots of damage to book covers--"the new shelves should really help with that."
They are adding a kitchenette to the bookstore's office/storage area, along with a place for staff to eat lunch, and there will be a dedicated space for shipping online orders and returns. New lights are being added to the basement and beneath the store's awning as well.
The temporary space, they said, is normally an art gallery and features "wonderful lighting" and "great big windows." The size is fairly comparable to the bookstore, and they've been able to use the gallery's moveable walls to create a storage area separate from the shop floor. They're using tables and folding bookshelves for most of the displays, and it's been "really nice."
The Cohens have "wanted to do a remodel for a while now," noting that the interior of the bookstore has gone largely unchanged since the store moved into the building in 1982, aside from some necessary adjustments made early on in the pandemic. It has been part of their strategic plan since 2014 and the original goal was to do it in January 2022.
"Then 2020 happened, so we were focused on so many different things," they explained, and some of the necessary changes made during the pandemic, such as allowing for social distancing and implementing curbside pick-up, emphasized the issues with the old layout.
Then in 2021 the store's basement flooded, which proved to be a "great opportunity to purge our display graveyard." In 2022, they were finally able to start planning the process and "really get things moving."
Jenny Cohen is on the board of the American Booksellers Association and has been nominated to be vice president for the next two-year term, starting in May.--Alex Mutter