Employee saves used bookstore

Charlie Wise has worked at the Book Stop for less than a year, and decided to buy the used bookstore when its previous owner, Soon Hood, died last month.          - Megan Stephenson / Herald
Charlie Wise has worked at the Book Stop for less than a year, and decided to buy the used bookstore when its previous owner, Soon Hood, died last month.
— image credit: Megan Stephenson / Herald

POULSBO — Bookstores are not exactly thriving businesses these days, but Poulsbo is determined to save one of its own.

When Soon Hood died of stomach cancer Aug. 14 at her daughter’s home in Bremerton, she left a used bookstore in downtown Poulsbo with many loyal patrons — and one especially loyal employee.

Charlie Wise, who worked part-time at the Book Stop since February, is buying the shop and its inventory, and will continue to run the store as The Book Stop.

“To own a bookstore is a dream come true,” Wise said.

Wise is also following in his former employer’s footsteps; Hood also worked as an employee and bought the store from its founder, Megan Holmberg, in 2004. Holmberg opened the store in 1983.

The bookstore was quietly up for sale for a few months before Hood died. Her eldest daughter, Genevieve Neely, announced the shop would be going out of business with a 30-percent-off sale in early August. But for many, the fate of the bookstore was undetermined.

Wise thought about buying the shop while Neely and her family dealt with their family hardship. Neely and her sister, Courtney, are both in college and couldn’t run the bookstore.

Last week, Neely and Wise came to an agreement.

“I am confident there will be a bookstore in October,” Wise said. He has received scores of boxes with book donations, and he said the Poulsbo business community has been great.

“Everybody has stepped up,” he said. “They want to see this place stay.”

Even the sale was a good way to review the business, Wise said.

“Business went through the roof in the first three weeks” of the sale, he said. “It was going gangbusters in here.”

Wise saw what sells, what doesn’t, and cleared some inventory so the store has a good rotation of books, he said. His sister and his girlfriend will help with the accounting side of things, he said, allowing him to focus on what he loves — books.

He wants to drive in more business with readings and talks with local authors, and perhaps a book club, he said. Wise will continue to work as a reference associate and substitute assistant at the Poulsbo Library, where he has been for 14 years, and will collaborate with the Friends of the Poulsbo Library as well.

“I am happy that the shop is going to stay open, and I have every confidence that Charlie is the right person for the job,” Neely said via email.

Wise will also continue to sell “The Spirit of Poulsbo,” a history book written by the Poulsbo Historical Society and published by Hood.

“Now I get to be a part of Poulsbo history,” he said.


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