For almost 44 years, Vintage Books has been a Clark County staple for literature lovers of all ages. The independent community-based bookshop first opened its doors in 1975 and has since become the largest in Southwest Washington.
Becky Milner, owner of the store, shares that working with creative booksellers and passionate readers has been a joy for her all these years. Milner has always been an active Clark County volunteer and when she had a young family, she decided she wanted to have something of her own and grow.
“It’s something that’s worth sharing, something that has become a family project in many ways,” Milner said of her bookshop.
Today, Vintage Books has 10 people that regularly work in the shop and Milner explains that employing a great staff and keeping things fresh are key components in why they have remained successful through the decades.
“As to growth, that’s what makes it fun – new faces in the door, new or new-to-us books, new technology … and fresh sections because of the change in reading tastes,” she said. “Our biggest asset – our incredible staff.”
The bookshop is well-curated, where customers can find a selection of the newest titles, as well as books from centuries past. They also regularly add varied Fair Trade and gift items to the inventory as well.
“We’ve been told repeatedly that our card selection is the best in Vancouver – high praise and a challenge to continue,” Milner said. “We offer variety, and we have the opportunity to focus on what we love.”
Vintage Books regularly works with community groups and book clubs and often invites authors and illustrators to the store to speak. They also work closely with Clark County’s Green Neighbor program to bring in authors that focus on sustainable living.
To stay competitive with online shopping trends, Vintage Books has been selling books online since 1994. This has been an educational process that has brought important skill and expertise to the business, giving the shop another platform for success. But no matter what the online marketplace looks like, Milner shares that the in-shop experience is what they love to share most.
“We listen. Folks can come to us with their ideas, their list, (and sometimes just to chat) and we build relationships. We are most grateful for the opportunities we have to be a part of life here. We’ve seen babies grow and later come in with their kids,” Milner said.
When it comes to thinking about the future, Milner said that she believes that continuing to evolve as a business is key.
“We watch, read and learn,” she said. “Education, whether it’s technology … or how to be more knowledgeable in a particular genre or in business practices, our work continually evolves. What’s the next great read? What’s the next great idea we can bring to Clark County readers?”