When Melissa Peake opened Bookish in August of 2022, she had a vision: to create a unique independent bookstore that is curated for children and young adults. Along with books from all genres and graphic novels, the shop also carries local teas and tea supplies, puzzles, educational toys, journals, cards and art supplies. They also offer regular events, such as weekend story times and other community activities, including a monthly adult book club and the ability to host birthday parties.
Recently, Bookish welcomed Camas local and published author of the Mr. Wolf’s Class series, Aron Steinke, to the store for events.
“Our primary focus is on allowing children and teens a safe, inclusive community space to explore and discover things they may not find in a box store or online,” Peake said. “We have had consistent revenue growth over the last four months, along with steady growth in transactions, book orders and event attendance … as the only children’s bookstore in Clark County, Bookish is filling a gap for the community. Independent bookstores can curate inventory to meet and flex with the needs of the community in a way that chain stores with national or even regional buyers cannot. This curation leads to deeper conversations and recommendations for new readers and their families, as well as ultimately putting a wider selection of more diverse books out into the immediate community.”
Giving back is also very important to Peake. Bookish offers a select amount of teacher $5 gift cards (once per school year) to gift at will to their students. So far, they have given $6,200 in gift cards to teachers in Vancouver, Washougal and Camas. They also recently hosted a giving tree to help with a student fundraiser at a local elementary school that benefited Doernbecher’s Children Hospital, and they have helped other teachers with holiday and birthday gifts, as well as back to school gifts. They also donate inventory monthly to the Downtown Camas Association for community events.
As a new business, Peake has had to learn the inner-workings of running a bookshop, but the community of Camas – and Clark County as a whole – has shown support.
This month, Bookish recently opened a small room of its shop called the Used Book Nook. Peake is excited about how that will attract new customers. She’s also looking forward to participating in First Fridays in downtown Camas and is planning on holding an author fair in the springtime.
“Camas, Clark County and even the Portland community have been incredibly supportive,” she said. “I am thrilled to already have many regular customers, high rates of social media interactions, and wonderful personal interactions and testimonies daily. Opening a new business has been mentally, physically and financially exhausting, but with the community support I have received, it truly makes it worth the time.”