Conrad.North opened its doors recently in Depoe Bay, selling new and used books, original artwork by local artists and a variety of gift items. Sarita Brown and her daughter, Victoria Baker, are partners in the new business, which Brown points out is not just about selling books.
“I think bookstores are about developing a thinking, conversant community,” said Brown. “And I did this not because I wanted to make a bunch of money, because you won’t, but because I believe in the community that talks to each other and exchanges ideas and creativity.” Keeping that focus, she said, “makes a dynamic in a community that really helps the community as a whole grow, and it’s also super fun. I’ve met so many interesting people.”
Brown is not a newcomer to Lincoln County. In the late 1980s, she did freelance writing for the News-Times in Newport, and she also owned and operated Good Earth Books from 1987 to 1992, which was located in the center of downtown Newport. “It was underneath the kite shop,” Brown said of her Newport bookstore. “When we had it, it was gorgeous. We had a bookstore in there, we were trying to open a coffee house. In those days I was part of Red Octopus Theatre, and all the artists and writers hung out at my bookstore.”
When Brown left Newport, she moved to Texas to be close to her parents. Following that, she lived in London for about 10 years, then in Peru for five years, after which she came back to the Oregon coast. “We ended up in Winchester Bay because it was the place I always went to as a young person,” she said.
She opened a bookstore in Winchester Bay, called Conrad, but she said the business climate on that part of the coast has suffered in recent years. She began looking for another location, thinking she might operate both stores, but said it’s now more likely she’ll close the store on the south coast and concentrate all of her efforts in Depoe Bay. “I think that fate knows what it’s doing, and this is a much better location,” she said of her new bookstore.
And the reception in Depoe Bay has been wonderful, added Brown. “I am super happy to be here,” she said. “I’ve had such a warm welcome. The business community, especially, has been so welcoming and friendly. I’m just touched by how nice everybody is in the community.”
At Conrad.North, “I have vintage books. I like books from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s,” said Brown. “There’s a lot of really high-quality books that don’t get a lot of press because they’re not sexy,” said Brown. “For instance, the ‘Oregon Desert,’ which is a real collectible, I sell it every time I put it on the shelf.” And if people don’t find what they’re looking for, “I order books for people all the time. I try to keep it really reasonable, and I’m very interested in local authors, Pacific Northwest authors.”
She also sells original artwork from coastal artists. “Art is for sale on consignment,” Brown said, pointing to a piece by Newport artist Eileen Hearne. “I love her. She is tremendous. She also found these retro ’60s ceramic molds, a mold of the Buddha from 1969, so she makes little Buddhas.”
Every Saturday evening, at 7 p.m., Conrad.North hosts an event of some kind. Last weekend was a poetry night, and this Saturday, May 18, author and psychologist Dennis Archambaul, who wrote an adult mythology coloring book, will be at the shop. Some Saturday evenings will feature acoustic music from local musicians, and anyone interested in taking part can contact Brown at the store.
Also featured at Conrad.North is Wandering Goat Coffee, which is roasted in Eugene. An organic and fair-trade product, people can purchase a cup at the store or buy a bag to take home and enjoy.
“I also carry items made by Lucinda Whitaker,” said Brown. “She does plant-based foods — non-GMO creamers, veggie burger mixes, soup and taco filling mixes, and they’re all plant-based. She has cream cheeses and butters, too.”
Conrad.North is open Friday through Monday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., “but I’ll probably stay open until 6 in the summertime,” Brown said. “I actually stay open as long as there’s people in here and they’re having a good time. People come in and we have good conversations, people play music, stuff happens.” She added that after Memorial Day, she will likely be open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well.
Conrad.North is located at 488 N Highway 101 in Depoe Bay, just north and in the same building as the U.S. Post Office. More information is available by calling the store at 541-707-0768.