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Business News: Book shop relocates, seed shop opens

Books by the Way to relocate next to Café Luna

Jenni Wilke, owner of Books by the Way, says she constantly sees customers browsing her shop with lattes or cappuccinos in hand, drinks they purchased at Café Luna. Soon, Wilke’s longtime dream of seeing her bookstore share both a wall and a door with the coffee shop a few doors down on Bank Road will become a reality.

When Wilke found out the space directly east of Cafe Luna was up for rent, she quickly jumped on the opportunity, she said. She will move from her shop on the west end of the building to the space adjacent to Cafe Luna the last week of September, enabling her to create an opening between her bookstore and the bustling café.

The space was occupied by ICF, International, an environmental consulting firm, which is downsizing and giving up about half of its office space. Wilke hopes to open in the new location by Oct. 1.

“There have been three different owners (of the bookstore) in the last decade, and they’ve all wanted this,” Wilke said. “At least two times a week someone says it’s too bad you’re not connected.”

Wilke and Café Luna owner Natalie Sheard have obtained permission from the building’s owner Donna Kellum to construct a doorway between the two spaces, allowing for customers to more easily wander between the shops.

Sheard is also excited for the change, saying she, too, has wanted the shops to be connected. “It seems like a perfect match to have books and coffee and to have fluidity between them,” she said.

While the new space will be about one-third smaller than the space Books by the Way currently occupies, Wilke said she will have to cut few titles. “It will be shelved more compactly,” Wilke said, adding that many people prefer the feel of a cozy bookstore.

Wilke hopes that both the lower rent and the connection with Cafe Luna will improve Books by the Way’s business. The book shop, like most small businesses and bookstores, has struggled in the current economy.

Mostly, though, she’s excited about the new experience she will be able to provide customers. “I’ve had nothing but positive comments from customers,” Wilke said. “People are very excited about it.”

New shop to feature birdseed, yard decor

Islanders Anne Theiss and Sandy Blake have long heard complaints from fellow bird-lovers that birdseed sold at large outdoor supply stores just doesn’t cut it.

Much of the birdseed is full of old seed or “filler” that birds leave behind, Blake said

“A lot of people go off Island to buy the quality feed,” she said. “They find it worthwhile instead of putting the feed out there that the birds don’t eat.”

Now, Theiss and Blake are offering quality birdseed and

more at Wings Birdseed Company, which opened at the beginning of August on S.W. 178th Street, next to Vashon Island Bicycles.

“It is clean and fresh food that the birds will eat,” Blake said of the seed, adding that that they are competitively priced with seed sellers both on and off the Island.

In addition to seed, Wings offers a gamut of decorative yard items, such as bird feeders, wind chimes, bird baths and rustic yard furniture. Blake said she has already seen the new shop appeal to Vashon residents.

“Anne and I both are outdoors people and nature-loving people,” she said. “I find a lot of people on the Island are like that; they spend a lot of time outside and are nature focused.”

The open, airy and brightly colored shop also holds a gallery wall, which currently features the work of Candy Gamble. “We’ll rotate every month like the other galleries do for the art walk,” Blake said.

In addition, Blake said the shop provides educational material about birds, and she welcomes Islanders to come in with questions. She and Theiss hope to one day even have bird experts give public talks at the shop.

Blake believes that in the present economy, having a nice backyard and attracting birds is more important than ever, as many people travel less and spend more time at in own homes.

“If you do feed the birds, you will attract a lot of different birds,” she said. “It’s entertainment for the cost of birdseed.”

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