Last Word Books Looking for ‘Fresh Legs’
BY RAY STILL
“We have to be out of this space by the end of February,” said Rob Ross and Sky Cosby, co-owners of Last Word Books and Press. “What we are going to do in the near future is going to radically eclipse what we’ve done in the last eleven and a half years. But we need the communities help to do this.”
This is the third time Last Word has moved locations since it was founded in 2002. The bookstore started on Fourth Avenue, where Oly World News was located, and then occupied a space on Fifth Avenue for a year and a half before settling in to its current location, back on Fourth Avenue, across from King Solomon’s Reef. Ross and Cosby are looking at several new venues, but are especially looking into the Olympia Press Building on Capitol Way, once home to Capitol City Press and the Olympian. Ross and Cosby invited members of the Olympia community to meet with them on Feb. 5 to discuss different ways to raise the money.
They need to pay what they owe their current landowners and the cost of moving not only the retail store, but their warehouse of online inventory. “The financial issues aren’t the problem—it’s the physicality of moving everything so it isn’t pell-mell or a fucking mess,” said Ross. “We were worried that by the termination of the lease before it was done, that we would be responsible for the remainder of it. But the landowners have been pretty helpful and forgiving in that way. We have the last month’s worth of rent to cover and then we are done.” It is going to cost the bookstore $4,000 to pay what they owe to the current landowners.
aren’t the problem—
it’s the physicality of
moving everything so
it isn’t pell-mell or a
– Rob Ross
People who went to the fundraising planning meeting offered their services, from distributing handbills and flyers advertising various Last Word fundraising events, to donating forklifts and flatbed trucks to lift and move the printing presses. Others offered to auction original artwork and band performances, with proceeds going toward Last Word. Several people suggested having a sale of inventory that Ross and Cosby were not interested in moving to their new location. There was only one problem, Ross said—“People don’t buy books.” Over the past year, Ross and Cosby have noticed more of their business happening online, or through the printing press they run, instead of coming through the retail store. It hit them last Christmas, when they typically have a rush of store traffic. “It just never materialized,” said Ross. “It was really slow that year in general.”
After some cost/benefit analysis of their situation, the co-owners realized that it did not make financial sense to continue to operate out of their current location. Ross and Cosby plan to still operate a small retail store in their new shop, but they admit that “it will have to take second fiddle” for a while as they focus on their online store and printing business. Ross mentioned that, with less energy being used to maintain the physical store, they can spend more time on events, either in their new location or with other spaces downtown. Ross and Cosby plan to work on the move from Valentine’s Day through President’s Day, and have expressed their hope that community volunteers will show up and ask to help. “This is an open invitation for anyone who wants to come in and help us,” said Ross. “And it would be very difficult for them to walk out without a book in their hand.”