Jan's Paperbacks, an institution in Aloha, goes up for sale
After decades in Aloha, one of Washington County's oldest independent bookstores is thinking about shutting down.
Since Thanksgiving, Jan's Paperbacks on TV Highway has been quietly looking for new ownership. Owner Debbie Burke said that she plans to close the store if a new owner doesn't purchase the bookstore.
"I'm old. I want to retire," said Burke, 65. "It's time."
First opened in 1981 as a book exchange, Jan's, located at 18095 S.W. Tualatin Valley Highway, is one of a handful of independent bookstores in Washington County.
The store celebrated its 35th anniversary last year, and is a popular destination for booklovers in Hillsboro, Aloha and Beaverton. The small store regularly hosts book signing with local authors and community events.
Burke has owned the store since 2000. She said she wanted to keep word of her pending retirement largely quiet, alerting some customers via her company's newsletter last fall.
"I wanted customers to have the first change to keep it going," Burke said.
So far, Burke has spoken with several people interested in taking over the small business, but there have been no offers, she said.
"I want the store to continue," she said. "I won't sell it to somebody that will just put it out of business."
Burke hasn't announced when she'll retire. If no one comes forward to purchase the store, Burke said she intends to close it, but she admits it's hard to say goodbye.
"I keep saying that I'll close it, but when it comes right down to it, will I really? I don't know," Burke said. "It takes a lot of work, and there is not a great deal of money in bookstores."
But the store is seen my many in Aloha as an institution, and Burke said she wants to see it continue on for years to come.
"We want to find someone with the passion and capabilities to continue nurturing and growing this important community asset," Burke wrote on the company's website. "Bookstores are central to a community's ability to maintain a sense of identity and connection."
Recent construction in South Hillsboro — the state's largest housing development underway south of TV Highway — could help the store, she said.
"It's a great time to get into the bookstore," she said. "There is a lot here for somebody with fresh ideas and the time to devote to it."
By Geoff Pursinger
Associate Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
Pamplin Media Group
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