by Pamela Frierson
photo by Thomas M. Barwick
Elliott Bay’s formula for success in an era when many independent bookstores are struggling is to keep doing what bookstores do best: create a sanctuary for the bibliophile. Started over three decades ago in the 1891-built Globe Building, the bookstore first opened in a corner that once housed a saloon. It expanded steadily into rooms previously occupied by carriage and bicycle retailers, clothing stores and a barbershop that was reputedly a front for prostitution. The end result is a warren with inviting nooks and crannies at every turn.
"When I first walked in here twenty-five years ago, I thought, ‘This is everything a bookstore should be,’" says longtime fan Peter Aaron. He put his money where his heart is: Five years ago he bought the place. Today this vibrant center for readers is also a place of writers: Many authors come from around the globe to share their work at the Book Company. On the bill last June? Everyone from David Sedaris to Bill Clinton.
Elliott Bay Book Company