Bookstore Marks 30 Years in Sisters
Last updated 5/24/2022 at Noon
Paulina Springs Books has been a community cornerstone in Sisters for the past three decades. The staff and its legion of customers and friends will celebrate those 30 years next weekend.
The store will offer a sale with 30 percent off on most of its wares on Saturday and Sunday, May 28-29. On Saturday, there will be free Boone Dog Pizza from noon to 3 p.m. (as long as the slices last) and music from 1 to 3 p.m. by Beth Wood and Dennis McGregor.
Even as the staff looks back on those three decades, they are making plans for a significant expansion that will enhance the independent bookseller’s presence in the community. Owner Lane Jacobson reports that the shop will expand into the adjacent space occupied by Sisters Gallery & Frame Shop. The gallery, in turn, is moving into part of the space formerly occupied by the Ken Scott Gallery (see sidebar, page 19).
“They’re getting a bigger, nicer space, and we’re getting that space (next door), so it’s a win-win for everybody,” Jacobson said.
The space will house Paulina Springs’ broad selection of puzzles and games — and become a community space for people to relax and enjoy, as well as a venue for intimate events. Staffer Beth Wood, a poet and musician, will serve as the store’s event coordinator creating “robust local programing.”
The expansion is expected to be complete in February 2023. The store will remain open throughout the process.
The expansion is reflective of the ways that independent bookstores have created a niche for themselves as indispensible community hubs, as a way of navigating tectonic shifts in the publishing industry. Jacobson notes that bookstores now offer a variety of ways for customers to engage in “discovery, discussion, and exploration.” Puzzles and games have gained tremendously in popularity.
“Rare is the bookstore that only sells books,” Jacobson said. “You basically have to be in a university town to pull that off. We were almost selling as many puzzles as we did books at the beginning of the pandemic (and) we’re sort of living in a golden age in the board game industry. Anything that’s not on a screen… Having something that’s tactile and not on a screen is such a boon.”
Paulina Springs currently employs eight people. Sue Tank has been a stalwart there for almost the entire 30 years of the store’s existence, starting six months after its Memorial Day 1992 opening. She had just moved to Sisters.
“I thought, ‘OK, I’m new here. This would probably be a good way to meet people,’” Tank recalled. “Originally, I was still doing wildlife research, and they allowed me time off in the summer to do that… Being a lifelong lover and reader of books, it was just a natural fit, I think.”
Tank takes great pleasure in serving customers that she’s known for 30 years.
“Now their kids are grown and they’re bringing in their kids as well — passing down the wonderful tradition of reading with families,” she said.
Paulina Springs is a destination for many people who have visited Sisters annually for many years. The business was founded by Diane Campbell and Dick Sandvik, knowing that they were entering a tiny market with a highly seasonal economy. Sandvik noted that a diverse set of employees with wide-ranging reading tastes helped establish the store’s identity, and made it a place where people returned over and over again, from all points of the compass.
“It was a really happy time in our lives,” Sandvik recalled of their 11-year tenure. “In terms of going to work, that’s probably the most enjoyable work we’ve ever done… We’re pleased we did it, and we’re glad it’s still here.”
Brad Smith took ownership of the bookstore in 2003, and extended and expanded its legacy until his death from cancer in 2017. Lane Jacobson took ownership in 2018, acutely aware of the legacy he inherited. At the time, he said, “If I can at the very least maintain what (Brad Smith) had going on here, I will be very happy.”
Despite the uncertainty of the past two years, Jacobson can safely say that he has honored that legacy and, just as his predecessors did, he is carrying it forward into the next 30 years.
For that, he credits a profound level of community support. And that is what will be celebrated over Memorial Day weekend.
Paulina Springs Books is located at 252 W. Hood Ave. in Sisters.