A good book store is more than a line of shelves or mass-market box. It’s an experience.
And a truly inspiring experience often comes when a store is as unique as the books it holds within. Under the roof of a Port Gamble Victorian house, through six specialized rooms, No. 7 Books holds such an experience.
“It’s an eclectic, funky little book store in a Victorian house and it mostly has collectible books,” said Danya Simkus, co-owner of No. 7 Books. She specializes in appraising rare and unique books, therefore the shop boasts a fair share of prized pages.
“Mostly all used, rare, collectible books,” she said. “Maybe they aren’t all expensive, but there’s something exciting about them.”
Accenting the experience, the store is reportedly haunted.
“I was just going to open a book store and it turns out to be this haunted thing,” Simkus said.
Paranormal happenings are part of the atmosphere of Port Gamble, which regularly hosts ghost tours, but No. 7 Books isn’t banking on the supernatural appearances of a little girl and a man to carry it.
As March unfolds, No.7 Books will fully open all its interior doors, rounding out its experience with six specialized rooms.
“It’s sort of like the ‘real opening,’ ” Simkus said.
The shop opened in October, though Simkus and co-owner Rik Scott initially did not want to open so soon. They were prompted to get an early start, however, when the Victorian home became available.
“I wasn’t ready,” Simkus said. “We were going to do it in March but we couldn’t pass up this beautiful Victorian house.”
It’s been a bare-bones operation over the past few months, but it all worked out in the end.
“We opened with three rooms in October. We didn’t have enough energy to open the rest,” Simkus said. “The store did wonderfully. In the first month it paid all its own bills and rent and an employee. It’s been really good.”
But by the end of March, all six rooms will be open for the first time, each geared toward the genres within.
The entrance showcases staff favorites, antique books, and special finds.
“I’ve got a first-edition Hemingway in there. Without a cover, so it’s not worth as much,” Simkus said. “A bunch of ‘firsts’ in that front room.”
The Houdini Room hosts everything from religion to the supernatural.
The kitchen, naturally, has cookbooks, as well as home and gardening books.
A fourth room has vintage political science, biographies, memoirs, nonfiction and literature.
Then there’s Paperback Heaven with mysteries and science fiction. It will be among the newly opened rooms in March.
The final stop in the house is the Writers Room, a sanctuary for reading and for those who practice the writing craft.
“It’s a nice spot to read, it’s got a beautiful view of the water,” Simkus said. “That’s the room that most people have seen the little girl.”
The Writers Room will also feature writing classes. Scott taught writing courses in a previous career and will put his educational skills to work at No. 7 Books.
At the end of March, No. 7 Books’ start-up work won’t be over. There are plans to install a large chess set on the property. Simkus said a website is coming, and the store may also enter the online book market.