Opening a New Bookstore with Tim Lohraff
How, I asked, did you get to Seattle from Chicago? He told me he and his wife, Jeanette, who is also an attorney, and who he met when he worked in the Public Defender's Office, loved the West Coast, loved outdoor sports, backpacking, kayaking, and the like. They wanted to move west.
"By that time, we had both been attorneys for ten or more years. So, six years ago, we simply packed up, sold our condo, and moved to Seattle. We didn't know anyone, but we made friends and found jobs. I worked at the Federal Defender's Office and within a year, Jeanette decided to start her own company. She is still practicing law, but now she is a mediator and negotiator as well as a business attorney. She's doing well and bringing people together instead of pouring gas on the fires of disagreements, so to speak."
Then three years ago, Tim and Jeanette were returning from Victoria, Canada, to Port Angeles, Washington. They got off the ferry and went into Port Townsend to the William James Bookstore. Tim had, by this time, been a lawyer nearly twenty years doing heavy, serious stuff, but had always loved books, not just as a reader, but as a book lover. Tim swears that when they went into the bookstore in Port Townsend, Jim, the owner, looked at him and said: "You look like the kind of guy who wants to buy a bookstore." Tim said: "I kinda would." This planted the seed and though the deal for buying The William James bookstore fell through, Tim decided that instead of buying a bookstore, he would open his own.
"That got me going and I began to pick up books everywhere for 'IF I open a store.' Then that accelerated until now I have about 16,000 titles. I began to scout locations, and a year ago I decided to quit being a lawyer and be a bookseller. I started saving money, went to the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, read blogs, and talked to lots of used bookstore owners. I quit my legal job and have been putting in sixteen-hour days trying to get the store open. I haven't had a chance to experience the fun part yet, as I am just trying to get the contractors to finish up when they are supposed to."
We asked Tim if they had kids. He replied that they didn't, but they have three cats and they are like their kids. I asked Tim how Jeanette felt about his being a bookseller. "She's very supportive," he said.
"So how close are you to opening?" I asked.
"The electrician is putting in some wiring, the sign goes up next week or the week after, the painting is in progress, and when that is done, I can put up the bookcases and begin putting books on the shelves. We hope to open November 15, but November 22 is the drop dead opening date."