Elliott Bay Book Company says business booming since move to Capitol Hill

A month-and-a-half since the Elliott Bay Book Company relocated to 10th Ave from Pioneer Square, it appears that the first Capitol Hill chapter of the independent bookseller’s saga is a happy one.

“We are thrilled to be here,” manager Tracy Taylor said.  “Business is great.  Our sales are up.  Reading attendance is up.”

Michael Malone, the principal at property owner Hunters Capital who reached out to bookstore owner Peter Aaron to explore the feasibility of the move, reports that the store racks in about 800 individual transactions each day, and that sales are up about 40 percent.  “The result of a good fit is success,” Malone said.


He added that Pike/Pine benefits from the bookstore being a destination retailer, in addition to serving neighborhood residents. Elliott Bay’s customers also patronize other local businesses, he said.  “Elliott Bay is an ideal destination retailer because they contribute to social and economic diversity,” Malon said.

“It is not a Walmart or Costco where people go [only] for convenience. They come with a purpose,” Malone said. “They come for lunch at Quinn’s or Oddfellows and ice cream at Molly Moon’s.”

It’s difficult for CHS to call any bluff in Elliott Bay’s numbers, of course. In Pioneer Square, sales tanked so precipitously that Aaron said he maxed out his credit trying to stay afloat. The Capitol Hill move, for now anyway, seems to have reversed the trend. Elliott Bay, by the way, is a CHS advertiser but, as with all advertisers, that will not curry favor nor invite increased scrutiny of the largest retailer on the Hill by this site. We’ll cover the big indie bookstore as we see fit.

At Elliott Bay, Taylor said that the staff is happy with the relocation to a neighborhood with the range of amenities that Capitol Hill offers. “The staff love being in a neighborhood with restaurants, a grocery store, movies, and bars. One evening the staff organized a kickball game at the park,” she said.  “We’ve had a staff party at the Garage to celebrate.”

The quality of the space – which features exposed wood beams, skylights, and a more open layout than the bookstore’s previous home in Pioneer Square – has proven to be another boon for the bookstore.  “Customers seem amazed by the light and the feel,” Taylor said.

Malone added, “Not only did the space carry on the feel of the Pioneer Square store, but it improved it with natural light, convenience, and parking.”

What’s in store for the next chapter at EBBC? We’ll continue to follow one of the more important retail stories on the Hill. For CHS’s previous coverage of Elliott Bay’s move to Capitol Hill, click here.

The Elliott Bay Book Company is located at 1521 10th Ave. between Pike and Pine Streets.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

14 thoughts on “Elliott Bay Book Company says business booming since move to Capitol Hill

  1. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about EBB’s move to Pike Pine. Would the “economy” up on the hill be that much different than in Pioneer Square? When I finally dropped in last Friday evening, I was impressed with what I found. Not only have they created a spacious comfortable bookstore, but it’s filled with life and book lovers. It already seems like it’s been there forever.

  2. I think the new store is great and the location can’t be beat. I was disappointed however by the decision to stop carrying used books. Granted the space is more restrictive, but there are so many benefits to mixing in used books. One of the employees told me the store felt there was too much competition for used books on the Hill. As far as I know there are none up at this end though. We’ll keep shopping there occasionally, but without used books we won’t visit as often as we may have otherwise.

  3. I love EBBS, and that they have a wonderful new space which is nearer to where I live, but am also disappointed that they don’t have used books in the mix. I have a restricted budget, which means I need to trade in books for credit and buy used to make my dollar stretch. I hope they manage to find space to wedge some used books in, and maybe expand their section of periodicals a bit. Overall, I am happy they are on the Hill and doing well, even if their focus needs to change a bit to survive as a business.

  4. For used books on the Hill, check out Twice Sold Tales on Harvard. There is also a used bookstore beneath Atlas Clothing on 10th.

  5. When is the cafe going to open? I had heard rumors that it was going to open a few weeks ago, but when I wandered in yesterday it looked like it was still under construction.

  6. Thanks for the update MRK! Always good to hear about a successful business in the ‘hood, especially when it’s local and awesome. With a light rail station and a bit more in-fill/rehab, the Pearl will have nothing on Pike/Pine.

  7. Couldn’t agree more about their decision to eliminate their used books section. It was my draw to their space in Pioneer Square. I imagine it was a space and staffing issue.

  8. Used bookstores on the hill include Spine & Crown, Horizon and Recollection Books, Half Price Books, and Twice Sold Tales.

  9. Count me as well as one of the originally skeptical . In retrospect, everything is completely clear:

    1) Elliott Bay Books is a fantastic book store.
    2) Pioneer square is a shit hole.

  10. “As far as I know there are none up at this end though”

    There’s one like a block away from this location, you haven’t looked very hard!

  11. The only downside I’ve observed is that the basement area, downstairs, wherein book readings happen, is constantly under assault from the sound of the toilets being flushed on the main floor above. That still doesn’t tarnish my enthusiasm for EBB being up here, but it is a little cringe-worthy.

  12. Hi Folks. The Washington University B&N has had for a number of years a Great Books Foudation, Great Books group meeting in their facility. If you have a place for 20-25 people to meet every other week (or maybe monthly)I think it would be a natural for you to bring in neighborhood trade. I have been at “Great Books” for many years and would be willing to do all of the necessary administration and leading of the group. If you have an interest I would appreciate an email. I am a new resident of Horizon House and within walking distance of your business. Tom Murray