Community. Connection. And of course, books.
Just a few of the reasons behind the success of Paulina Springs Books in Sisters.
Owner Lane Jacobson had a hard time describing just what makes the store so special.
“It really is just like a feel that you can’t explain specifically in words,” said Jacobson.
“It becomes more than just a bookstore,” added one of the bookstore’s sellers and event coordinator, Beth Wood.
Whatever it is, it’s a feeling that’s drawn people back for decades. Thirty years, to be exact.
The store is celebrating the milestone this week.
“Certainly the previous owners, Brad Smith before me, and Dick (Sandvick) and Diane Campbell who opened this store in ’92, did a really good job of establishing this foundational spirit of this store that I’ve tried really hard to carry on,” said Jacobson, who took over as owner in late 2018.
It’s a spirit that’s become contagious, to both the community and the staff.
“When I saw that there were positions open at the bookstore here I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I want to do that, I can do that!’” Wood laughed. “I love the friendly vibe here. I love the community feeling of this place. It’s sort of like a community hub for Sisters.”
The store has been growing for three decades
When the store opened in 1992, it boasted just one room in its building. Then it took over another, and another.
Soon, they’ll expand the footprint even more.
“Right now the bookstore is roughly three quarters of the building, and we’re going to be expanding into the other quarter of the building,” Jacobson explained. “We’ll have a modular stage, we’re going to add seating for people to hang out, we’re hopefully going to be adding a beer and wine cooler.”
They will also allow people to rent board games and play at tables in the new space.
“Sisters doesn’t have a very low key place to just hang out and relax, and so we’re hoping to sort of fill that space,” Jacobson added.
Wood, who is also a singer-songwriter, envisioned putting on events for community members to share their own writing and art.
“Poetry open mics, music open mics. Just a place where people can gather and feel welcome and safe and share,” she said.
The room is currently occupied by Sisters Gallery and Frame Shop, which will move into a more updated location next door.
As the bookstore takes over the area, staff will also enact a full remodel on their existing space, complete with new fixtures, floors, and paint.
They hope to complete the expansion and remodel by the end of February 2023 and plan to close for only 2-3 weeks sometime during the winter to focus on the project.
Turning Paulina Springs Books into a hangout
Staff members believe the changes will help make it even more of a hangout in the community.
“We always want to be the ‘third place’ for people,” Jacobson said. “People have their work, they have their home, and they have their third place that they spend a lot of time at. For some people that’s a food cart garden or a gym or whatever, but we want to be that for the people who think that we fit that description for them.”
The world has changed a lot in 30 years, and sites like Amazon put the pressure on independent bookstores to deliver.
In recent years, Paulina Springs Books has been forced to expand their inventory to fill in the gaps.
“Another thing that a lot of bookstores, and us especially, have done is branch out to more than just books,” Jacobson said. “So still carrying things that contribute to sort of the same feel and vibe and messaging that we’re going for, but things like puzzles, cards, board games, toys for kids.”
He said they benefit greatly from the tourism brought through town in the summer months, as well as the holiday season in winter.
The community is also aware, he said, of the benefits of shopping local.
“As people have seen what buying everything online does to their communities and their downtowns, it’s really easy to see the benefit of buying everything locally,” Jacobson added. “I think that bookstores are just a really great example of the way that the money you spend here goes back into the community, and contributes to a space that operates as a hub within the community.”
Celebration this weekend
This weekend, they will celebrate their milestone through a series of events including their first in-person author visit after the pandemic, a presentation of “Three Sisters Wilderness: A History” by author Les Joslin on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m.
They will also hold a 30% off store-wide sale on Saturday and Sunday, free pizza from Boone Dog Pizza from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and both Wood and Dennie McGregor will play live music from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
“The support of the local community has been a huge thing obviously through the decades,” Jacobson said. “Having a local community support a business like this, we wouldn’t be able to do it without that.”