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Book store in jeopardy after owner’s death

Far right, Soon Hood, owner of The Book Stop in downtown Poulsbo, with the ladies of the Poulsbo Historical Society. Hood died Tuesday after a bout with stomach cancer. Hood was the publisher of Poulsbo’s history book, “The Spirit of Poulsbo.”          - Poulsbo Historical Society
Far right, Soon Hood, owner of The Book Stop in downtown Poulsbo, with the ladies of the Poulsbo Historical Society. Hood died Tuesday after a bout with stomach cancer. Hood was the publisher of Poulsbo’s history book, “The Spirit of Poulsbo.”
— image credit: Poulsbo Historical Society

POULSBO — Soon Hood was the friendly owner of The Book Stop, a used bookstore in downtown Poulsbo. Her love of history was an integral part in the publishing of “The Spirit of Poulsbo,” a local history book.

Hood died of stomach cancer Aug. 14 at her daughter’s home in Bremerton. She was 47. Her beloved used book store is holding a going-out-of-business sale while the family decides its next steps.

Being a bookstore owner, it is expected that Hood loved books. But her friends and family said the bookstore was more than that to her.Hood’s eldest daughter, Genevieve Hood Neely, worked in the bookstore in high school alongside her mom.

“She used to bring home boxes of stuff she found here in the store,” Neely said. “She liked to learn. There’s no better place to learn about things than here.”

Judy Driscoll of the Poulsbo Historical Society worked with Hood on “The Spirit of Poulsbo.”

“She absolutely adored books, especially old books. The feel of them, to read them,” Driscoll said.

Hood bought the Book Stop from Megan Holmberg, who founded the store in 1983.

“She was a good business person,” Holmberg said. “A love of books isn’t enough to run a shop, you’ve got to know what you’re doing…She did a great job.”

The Book Stop has been Poulsbo’s used book store for 29 years, the last 26 at its Front Street location. Neely said it was a gathering place for locals, visitors, boaters, and the unique type of person who comes to a used book store.

“We both really felt it was a privileged position in the community,” Neely said. “It was a safe place to come and ask questions.”

Hood was raised in California, where she married and had her two daughters. The family moved to Bremerton about 15 years ago. Hood bought the store in 2004 after patronizing it for many years. Holmberg said Hood offered to buy the place when Holmberg was ready to retire — before Hood even started as an employee.

Hood became fascinated with old and rare books after becoming owner — she even acquired a first edition of “Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway.

“She liked older books and collectible books,” Holmberg said. “She was very savvy in the market, she knew what people wanted.”

Hood also loved history and approached the Poulsbo Historical Society about writing a book a few years ago. Folks were always coming into Hood’s store looking for a book about Poulsbo’s history, Driscoll said.

“I only knew her as the lady who ran the bookstore until we started work on the book,” Driscoll said. “She was the one who spurred us into starting to work on the book.”

While the society researched and wrote, Hood put up the money and had the book published in 2009. In fact, Hood even came up with the title for the book, and she and the Poulsbo Historical Museum were the exclusive sellers of the book.

Driscoll said the closure of The Book Stop will leave a big hole in the town, echoed by downtown property owner Bill Austin, former owner of the Hare and Hounds Pub.

“Soon was always helpful,” Austin said. “She helped with the restaurant [Hare and Hounds] quite a bit, I helped her with the books … And she really loved her kids. She was always talking about her kids.”

Neely, 26, is a biochemistry student, and her 25-year-old sister Courtney is also in school. Neely said it wasn’t a conscious decision to close, but being unable to run the store she expects the story to close mid-September.

“It’s going to take a lot of imagination” to keep the store going, she said. “It will take a special person who can take it over.” The store has been for sale since Hood was diagnosed last year, and Neely said an employee has shown interest in buying the store.

For now, the sale continues.

 

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