Reading was quite a struggle for the young Jody Swanson, so it may come as a surprise that she now owns a successful independent bookstore. But to Swanson, it makes perfect sense.
“When I finally did learn to read, it was wonderful,” says Swanson, owner of Manzanita’s Cloud & Leaf Bookstore. “And I still feel the same way. It’s wonderful for me when I find the right book.”
Likewise, when she can lead her customers to the tome that will resonate long after the cover closes. Swanson opened the shop in 2004. It was her first business, and a seemingly risky choice, given the shuttering of so many other bookstores.
“It just seemed like a good idea,” Swanson says. “I was naïve enough and there weren’t any other new bookstores right around here.”
Her hunch paid off. Today, the little bookstore is a popular stop for visitors and locals alike. It just received a nod from author James Patterson – who’s pledged $1 million to help independent bookstores – in the form of a grant she’ll use to upgrade the children’s section and her computer system.
Should you happen by Cloud & Leaf, odds are good you’ll find Swanson behind the counter, ready with all sorts of suggestions from her own favorite reads. But if she’s not in, Swanson promises her staff will be equally keen on helping customers ferret out the just-right read.
“I hope they feel they can browse as long as they want to, and not feel pressured to buy something,” Swanson said. “And, I hope they will find something they didn’t expect.”
By Lori Tobias
Image caption: Jody Swanson, owner of Cloud and Leaf, a destination bookstore for more than 10 years in Manzanita.