“A Good Book” Sumner’s Hidden Gem

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Andi Wiegand, Features Editor

Nestled in the heart of downtown Sumner lives A Good Book. 

Hidden amongst a strip of cafes and consignment shops, this gem is the beating heart of the bookworm community that spreads in the miles surrounding. 

A family-owned business, A Good Book, has had its doors open for the past 24 years. Owned by Puyallup High’s alumni, Evelyn Nicholas and her husband, the store is filled with books ranging across all genres. 

Nicholas says she initially opened the location in Sumner to fill the void left by the closure of the previous local bookstore. It’s a fate that has been similarly met all throughout the country, with countless used bookstores shutting down. The used bookstore in Puyallup shut down years ago, leaving A Good Book as the only store of its kind within the valley and surrounding areas.

The owner, Nicholas, stressed the importance and value found in a locally owned bookstore that so often is lacking in a corporate chain bookstore. 

“The people that create and operate small businesses, including bookstores, put their stamp of cleverness, creativity, and personal philosophies into everything that is that business,” Nicholas said.

Once within the walls of A Good Book, patrons can see the heart and soul put into this store from Nicholas herself, both in the layout and decorations, to the books lining the shelves and the knick knacks found on the display tables. This locally owned store expresses it’s personality through tokens left throughout  by the owner. “These indie business owners carefully select what products and books are sold, the decor, the arrangement of the store, the employees and even the atmosphere,” Nicholas said. “All this to create a place that will draw in the type of customers that the owner or manager is catering toward, and hopefully entice the customer to purchase products, tell others, and return repeatedly. This is why every independent bookstore you visit is so different, despite the fact that all of them have shelves and shelves of books available for purchase.” 

As a Good Book has expanded from its roots as a used book store, the store only continues to boom. Now shipping in popular books that are new and ready for purchase, while maintaining its heart with the continued used book program.

Nicholas herself spoke a bit about the program. 

“We stock both new and used books. The used books are traded for discount dollars which can be used to reduce the prices of the used books purchased,” Nicholas said.

The program is a simple and easy process used to bolster the collection of used books, therefore both clearing shelves and filling theirs while you walk away with a discount that can be used on any previously owned books you wish to purchase.

“Discount dollars are not available to be used on new book purchases, but many of the new books do have some discounts taken from the publisher’s pricing,” Nicholas said.

When a person drops off any number of used books and their value is determined, that value goes towards a store credit that serves as a discount to any other previously owned books found on the shelves. Anything marked with a white sticker is used and therefore eligible for discount if you have turned in books before.

The program is booming with new influxes of books regularly, to the point where the owners have had to put pauses on the program in order to sort through the books they have already received.

Nicholas says the past year has been interesting since stores like hers and libraries are dependent on shoppers being able to browse. 

“It has been an interesting year of change for the bookstore, the customers and the folks that work here. The nature of bookstores and libraries is aisles of bookshelves, which makes [social] distancing very difficult,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas says her employees try to encourage customers to practice social distancing with just one person in each genre area. 

“The most difficult places to distance are the passing aisles and the children’s loft,” Nicholas said. “For these reasons we are especially diligent about masks.”

The store also had to make other adjustments to accommodate COVID restrictions.

“In store events and activities have also been put on hold, although our book club is meeting via Zoom. We increased and are now decreasing our puzzle selection to meet the unique demands that COVID brought to us,” Nicholas said. “We also have had changes in what and how much of some stock we carry as people have adjusted around the libraries and schools being closed and not as available to browse. The most lovely change has been the community getting behind their locally loved businesses with their patronage and money. This community rocks.”