Dan Ullom strikes one as a person who would fit well as a book store owner.
With a semi-tamed red beard and friendly demeanor, it came as little surprise when, after two years of planning, he said one of his favorite parts of his new store is its windows filled with smudges from passersby trying to get a glimpse of the new store.
“We’re feeling pretty good about it,” he said standing in the store last Friday afternoon.
While work was still being done and few books lined the shelves, in under a month, the scene at the shop will be much different.
Dan is opening Brick and Mortar Books with Tina and John Ullom in the Redmond Town Center, where the family hopes to provide the area with new books. A soft opening is scheduled for the end of this month and a grand opening to follow on June 23.
Dan said he’s spent more than two decades living either in Redmond or surrounding cities and has gotten to know it.
“This community of Redmond has just a massive — there’s so many authors out here,” he said. “Redmond’s a very literate city.”
Dan was a teacher for 14 years in the area, and Tina taught for 25 years and helped start the library at Rachel Carson Elementary. John is no stranger to literature, too, as he reads hundreds of books each year.
Opening an independent book store has been a long-time goal for Tina and John, but it wasn’t until she sent an article to Dan about Jeff Kinney, author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” opening a bookstore, that they decided to take the plunge.
“It’s been a dream, and now it’s going to be a reality,” Tina said.
They wound up meeting Kinney during a training program on operating a book store.
Brick and Mortar Books will focus on children’s and young adult books but will stock a healthy blend of adult books and STEM educational materials as well.
In particular, Dan said he found, through talking with locals, the Redmond community particularly enjoys science fiction, fantasy and graphic novels.
Brick and Mortar Books will sell new books exclusively, so it won’t create competition for the area’s two existing used book stores, Dan said.
But the Ulloms hope to fill what they see as a gap in service in both Redmond and surrounding cities.
John said when Borders left the city some years back, it was a blow to book lovers.
“It’s been a big hole in the Redmond community,” he said.
The family aims to offer around 20,000 books to start, with the potential to shelve around 30,000. They’re also hoping to bring in both local and national authors for book signings and reading events.
Dan said everything about their business model, including the name, is designed to create a sense of community at the store.
Other book stores in the area have also lent them help, with many of the book racks being donated from other book stores. Local book stores in the region have also offered assistance to help get Brick and Mortar Books off the ground.
“With book selling, I think the big think is we are passionate about the same thing,” Dan said. “We don’t want to see book stores go under.”
Updates on the store’s progress can be found on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/brickandmortarbooks.