(Editor’s note: The return of Queen Anne’s bookstore was first reported by the News on Friday, Jan. 18., at www.queenannenews.com)
The bitter has turned to sweet: Queen Anne is getting its bookstore back.
After weeks of rumors, new owners Judy and Krijn de Jonge and Janis Segress e-mailed a press release on Friday, Jan. 18, announcing Queen Anne Book Co. will open in late February at the site of the former Queen Anne Books, 1811 Queen Anne Ave. N.
In the past weeks, as their plans firmed, the trio guarded their secret.
“At the gym people would say, ‘What do you think of the bookstore closing?’” Judy de Jonge recalled, laughing.
Now de Jonge can say it out loud — “There’s nothing better than holding a book in your hand,” she said — and talk about what she and her partners will do to spread the faith.
The new owners are starting fresh; they did not buy the old business. They are bringing back some of the former staff.
Hearing the news
The back story is well known: Last April, Queen Anne Books owner Patti McCall sold to retired King County Judge Katharine Hershey. In mid-October, Hershey announced the store would close on Halloween unless a buyer could be found. The store’s last day was indeed Halloween, a day of emotional goodbyes between customers and staff.
Judy de Jonge, 57, remembers a warm day in October sitting outside at El Diablo Coffee with her golden lab, Tali, enjoying a cup of coffee when the UPS guy, knowing her to be a voracious reader and regular bookstore customer, spoke up: “The bookstore is closing,” he said. “You should buy it.”
Meanwhile, Segress, 47, was in New Zealand when she heard the bookstore was on the block.
At the same time, landlord Louis Ravenet, who lives in Ireland, looked into buying the store from Hershey.
After Segress and the de Jonges made separate overtures to Ravenet, he stepped back and introduced the future owners to each other just after Thanksgiving.
Hershey, the new owners said, asked too much for her shuttered store. Working with Ravenet, the trio decided to start from scratch.
Segress, who had worked as head buyer at Eagle Harbor Book Co. in Winslow, one of the Northwest’s flagship, independent bookstores, returns to her old neighborhood to manage the business. “It’s always been a dream to own a bookstore,” she said.
For Judy de Jonge, 57, the dream is the same: “I’ve been out of the workforce since my first baby was born in 1986,” the longtime community volunteer said. She and her husband, Krijn, 58, a native of Holland who works in customer service at The Boeing Co., have lived on the hill since 1985.
“An extraordinary thing going for Queen Anne Book Co. is its standing and tradition,” Segress said. “Indies (independent bookstores) are coming back. We have experienced staff. We’ve got a literate community. We will stay current with technology.”
She added they are still approaching the business from what Segress calls “the pen-and-ink tradition. Our goal is to be viable and self-sustaining and serve the community."
Judy chimed in: “It’s a labor of love.”
The trio has big plans — events, readings and a “spectacular” opening day, Segress said.
Krijn de Jonge is used to the European concept of the urban village, where you can walk to what you need, including the neighborhood bookstore. “If you want to be part of the community, there is a philosophy of communitarianism,” he said.
The pieces appear to fit for this “small miracle on top of the hill,” as the new owners term it.
Segress noted, “I’ve got another 25 to 30 years to work. This will be my last stop.”