With the popularity of the mega-bookstore and national chains, it is becoming increasingly rare to find established local, independent bookstores. One by one, these stores are closing their doors and leaving us to the bright lights
and big stacks of discounted bestsellers. Eugene, Oregon
is home to some successful and valued independent bookstores, owned and operated by community booksellers – many working the counter in their own establishments. When you get the hankering for some reading material, here are some shops to peruse:
J. Michaels Books is owned and operated by a husband and wife team and located in the heart of the Pearl district in downtown Eugene. The physical address is 160 E. Broadway, but you can also access the proprietors online at www.abebooks.com/home/JMICHAELS. Over the years, they have become specialists in finding out-of-print and rare books and have an excellent selection of both current and old titles. This is a great shop to find art, history, politics and other specialty subjects and the staff is quite helpful in finding what you might be looking for.
Eugene is home to another unique independent bookstore with a controversial past – Mother Kali’s Bookstore. Although the original “Mother Kali” is no longer with the business, it has been run as a collective for several years. It has recently moved to it’s new location at 1849 Willamette and you can find out more about upcoming readings, events, benefits, etc. at www.motherkalis.com. This store is known for it’s feminist and female-oriented book titles and it is one of those stores where something always seems to be happening.
Another Eugene treasure that has been on the chopping block more than once (almost losing to the mega-store but being resurrected by devoted citizens) is Tsunami Books. This bookstore is embedded in the community, as well at its neighborhood at the foot of college hill in south Eugene at 2585 Willamette Street. Tsunami Books carries a variety of titles, but is known for it’s literature and books with a local flavor. It is a great bookstore to attend readings, book clubs, and other social events. Check out information at www.all-oregon.com/city/eugene/shopping.html.
Part bookstore, part health food, part deli and part grocery store is a true Eugene classic, The Kiva at 125 West 11th. This is a shop where you can get organic vegetables, bulk food, a fine bottle of wine and take advantage of a fine selection of cookbooks, political books and literature titles. This is a unique store with an independent spirit and a strong local customer-base. It is also within easy walking distance of just about anywhere downtown.
Although Smith Family Bookstore specializes in used books and text books, it is still an anchor independent book seller in Eugene. With two locations – one near the University of Oregon campus at 768 E. 13th, and another newly-remodeled retail space across from the main Eugene Post Office at 525 Willamette (one block North of the Eugene Hilton,) these stores buy and sell used books. Known for the overflowing shelves and hard-to-find copies and treasures, Smith Family is a fine shop to spend a rainy afternoon. You can find out more about store happenings at http://www.smithfamilybookstore.com/main.html
Finally, a small little delight of a book store tucked into a corner in South Eugene is Black Sun Books. An independent book store specializing in rare and used books, this is the place to find that great edgy title to pass away a long weekend. The store is located at 2467 Hilyard – in an enclave of shops that includes a coffee shop and a health food store, and while they don’t have a website, you can reach the staff at (541) 484-3777. This little gem is one of the best kept secrets in Eugene.
Now you have no excuse. Searching for a book or two in Eugene is a much more spiritual experience when you search in one of these independent book shops. The staff are eager to help you with those rare and out-of-print titles as well.