Elliott Bay Book Co. to make Pike/Pine home – UPDATE

The biggest, most important retailer on Capitol Hill is about to move in. The Hill has attracted a much loved Seattle business to its revitalized Pike/Pine district. In the culmination of a rumor they kicked off in October, the Slog is reporting that Elliott Bay Book Co. is, indeed, going to make 10th Ave its new home:

[Owner Peter] Aaron’s not sure of the exact dates just yet, but the bookstore will close its Pioneer Square location “probably sometime in February” and reoopen “probably mid-March” after two weeks of moving books and fixtures to the new location.

The new location is next door to the Odd Fellows building and has served as a distribution center for DMX Music in recent years.

This weekend, we pointed to an interview with Elliott Bay’s owner Peter Aaron where he detailed the reasons Capitol  Hill makes an attractive new home.

From the New Pioneer Square:

Aaron has tried to work with numerous parking lot owners and the city to get dedicated parking spots for their store, but no one has cooperated. Not even the parking lot east of Occidental will work them. The city won’t even give them four small spots directly in front of the store.

The building Elliott Bay will soon occupy has parking in its basement and also includes rights to a nearby lot, according to this real estate listing page.

Another big factor in the possible move is the vibrancy of the neighborhood.

When I asked Aaron what it was about Capitol Hill that would help them be successful where they weren’t in Pioneer Square, he said that “the reputation of Capitol Hill is that it’s been revitalized and is vibrant. There are incredible retail and restaurant destinations.” Not to mention the streetcar that is coming soon (one block from where the EBBC might relocate). And even though it is five years out, Aaron said that “it’s something that will bring in even more business.”

The news comes as longtime Broadway bookseller Bailey Coy finally shut down and held its “wake” closing celebration last week.

We’ve also documented the recent mini-trend of Seattle businesses moving to the Hill. Others who have made or are planning the move include interior designer Revival Home, plant store Envy which moved from the Central District to the Pearl Building at 15th and Madison and Sitka and Spruce which will move to the overhauled Melrose Building. Those moves are good news for Capitol Hill but, with all due respect, Elliott Bay’s decision is the most significant of the bunch by far.

Meanwhile, we continue to track the story surrounding rumors of a large grocery store eyeing a Hill location. In an economy of struggle and turmoil, Capitol Hill has a few storylines that seem downright optimistic. The fact that Elliott Bay’s story is being told in an industry best described as troubled just adds to the drama.


A message from Peter Aaron has been posted to the Elliott Bay Web site:

A New Chapter…
After many weeks of speculation about the future of The Elliott Bay Book Company, I am now able to confirm that the book store will be moving to a new location on Capitol Hill in the spring of next year.

      The past two years have been a difficult, painful period of exploring and evaluating possibilities in an attempt to determine what would be best—and necessary—to ensure the long-term health and vitality of the store. And while the thought, and the practicalities, of moving from the site and the locale which have been home for the past 36 years are daunting to say the least, I am convinced that this upcoming relocation will afford us the best opportunity to remain, and further develop as a thriving enterprise.

      First—about the new location. We will be moving into a beautiful vintage building on 10th Avenue between Pike and Pine. The building dates from 1918—and was the original Ford truck service center for Seattle. The space will be comparable to the current store (in fact a bit larger), and will incorporate a café and a room dedicated to author appearances. It has the fir floor—complete with creaks—we’re used to treading, and gorgeous high wood ceiling—including massive wood beams—and skylights. While no space could exactly duplicate the charm of the original store, I can promise that the new building will offer a warm, comfortable and cozy environment that will be true to the beautiful place Walter Carr founded on Main Street.

      The building has its own parking below street level—and between this and a nearby lot, we will be able to provide ample validated parking. In addition the new space will offer something we’ve never been able to offer before—wheelchair access to all levels.

      The neighborhood is one of incredible vitality. I’m confident that this move will boost our business to the level necessary to maintain our commercial viability—and to facilitate the ongoing investment necessary to keep any business vital.


      It will be sad for us all to leave a building—and a neighborhood—that we have called home for all these years. For those who can’t imagine us any place else, believe me—all of us at the store have had to wrestle through that. Moving the store is the second-to-last thing I would want to see happen. Seeing the store close would be the only thing worse. The fact is that the business has been eking downward for the past several years, and the steeper decline of the past two years has made it clear that if the book store is to survive, it must be in a location that affords the vibrancy (especially in the evenings), parking, population base, and freedom from conflict with the sporting events—all of which characterize the new site.

      When I first became involved in the ownership of Elliott Bay eleven years ago, it was because I believed fervently that this gem, which had been “my” bookstore since I first moved here twenty-seven years ago, was worth saving—that it was a precious asset that must and, in fact, could flourish in this city—if anywhere on earth. Since that time I have done my best to be a faithful steward in preserving both the spirit and the body of this unique place which has been built and nourished cooperatively by the generations of booksellers who have worked here over the years and the book-lovers who have supported us—here in Seattle, across the country and indeed around the world. I’m inexpressibly grateful for that ongoing support—and most especially for the outpouring of concern and commitment we’ve received in recent months. We’re committed to doing everything in our power to continue to earn your patronage and support.

      Even as we work toward this significant change, we will strive to do our best to stay focused day-to-day on our primary calling: putting books in readers’ (your) hands. This includes the full regimen of author readings. To us, this is less about ending or beginning than about continuing, developing and deepening what we can offer to a community of devoted readers.

  We will post progress reports on the new location and ongoing updates on the exact timing of the move here on our website. I welcome the opportunity to address any questions or comments you may have.

Peter Aaron,

Seattle Times has a brief up saying that Elliott Bay will have a cafe as part of their new Capitol Hill offerings. Given the proximity to Oddfellows, have to wonder if there isn’t a possibility some kind of pairing with Linda Derschang’s operation might pan out.

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9 thoughts on “Elliott Bay Book Co. to make Pike/Pine home – UPDATE

  1. Cool that it’s coming, but what does that mean for Twice Sold or Half Price? Or does the new books versus used books difference detonate any potential problems before they are problems?

  2. While I know this is not great news for Pioneer Square it is great news for the Hill.

    Go there. Spend your money. And then spend some more.

  3. I am beyond thrilled to welcome my favorite bookstore to my neighborhood and I am very optimistic that this is exactly what was need to both ensure the continued success of the store and to hopefully prompt PS to take the steps necessary to address the same issues that long plagued Capitol Hill. While you cannot remove the elements of big city living entirely – homelessness, drug use, etc. PS has done a good enough job to control these elements while also ensuring continued vitality and safety for both its residents and businesses. I hope this is the siren call needed for them to finally do so.

    As for me, come March of 2010 I am kissing Amazon goodbye! ;-)

  4. Good news and a test.

    Today a dozen so called leadership groups went walking with the Mayors staff on the Hill and have the mayor as a guest at a holiday bash.

    So let’s hope those groups get into the groove and really support LOCAL
    business on the Hill. A lot to hope for, but, I think it was a major problem for dear Michael at Bailey-Coy. We all loved the place and some of us then cheap skated out to save a dollar or two and look what happened.

    As I said earlier there are tens thousands of book buyers in a five mile radius of the hill. Buy BOOKS on the hill.

    It is economic, but, also cultural. And a quality of life issue.


  5. I’ve never visited EBB but several friends pointed out the reason they loved it but didn’t visit frequently: the location. Specifically, lack of parking and general access. That really isn’t a Pioneer Square issue, but a city growth and transportation issue. Blaming the homeless, crime, and drugs is a red herring.

    Staci, I agree with Mike: Why not frequent local booksellers *now* versus waiting for another one to close due to lack of business? Bailey/Coy was great for the Capitol Hill community, and if more people had chose to support it (over saving a few bucks at Amazon), they wouldn’t be gone today.

  6. Ecstatic that its the real deal and looking forward to going to EBB and then lounging in the Park and reading with an ice cream. And hopefully the cafe will still be run by Tamara Murphy, cause it has been amazing since she took over. And it’ll be a short commute for her from that space to her new space going in at the Melrose bldg.

    For the good Lt, if you’ve never visited EBB then how can you say all those things mentioned are a Red Herring and it boils down to transportation/growth, simply based on your friends’ experience? Given the amount of buses down first and third, I’m a little confused by that. General access?
    It is so hard to see there are many factors that can contribute to an area’s decline and subsequent impact on business and that transportation issues are just one of them? (housing mkt, or lack of one can also be a factor)
    The PS BUSINESSES are saying (and frankly have been saying for awhile) that crime, drugs, etc. have gotten worse, so how can we say that’s a red herring? Part of supporting local business is buy and another part is to listen to what they are saying, as they observe, experience and see more of what’s going on in the neighborhood on a regular basis more than we do. And also recognize how the co-location of various types of businesses and more local focused developers has changed Pike Pine. And hopefully we will see some of that on Broadway over the next several years even as the light rail construction ramps up.

  7. I love that store, it was always the location that made me not visit as freq. I can’t wait to go to the new location. Beers at Oddfellows, ice cream at Molly’s, and a book to purchase all in one block!!!

  8. I worked in this building as part of AEI Music for a couple of years. It is a wonderful piece of architecture, and I hope Elliott Bay will be as happy as I was in the fir floors and beams. There’s nothing else quite like it!