With all great stories, one chapter closes and another one opens.
Wind & Tide Bookshop, the charming little store that’s graced downtown Oak Harbor for nearly 44 years, is under new ownership. Longtime proprietor Diane Sullivan is looking for new adventures and has passed the keys to Karen Mueller, a Whidbey-born book lover who is exited about taking the shop to new horizons.
“I can’t believe I’ve done it for 23 and a half years,” Sullivan said. “It was the best but it’s time for something else.”
Sullivan bought the store with her husband, Dennis, in 1988 from Patti Pattee and Norman Sturdevant. They purchased the business about eight years before from founding sisters Mary Carr and Dorothy Park, who opened the shop in 1967.
The store has become something of a city landmark over the years, and Sullivan said she cherishes the more than two decades she spent at the helm. But after so long, she admits she was beginning to run out of steam and began looking for a buyer earlier this year.
When the sale went through this past October, it was bittersweet. Getting the store sold was a big relief, but it also meant that one of the great chapters of her life had ended and there are things she will dearly miss.
“You’re going to make me cry,” she said, while telling the story. “I loved interacting with the community.”
Mueller is well aware of Wind & Tide’s long history and the big shoes she will have to fill. But she’s ready for the challenge because as with so many in the community, the little book store holds a special place in her heart.
Mueller, who is retired from a career in finance and spent many years in Toronto, Canada, is originally from Coupeville and has some magical memories of visiting the store as a child.
“I remember the smell of it and thinking it was wonderful,” she said.
Although the book business will be a new venture for Mueller, she certainly seems to have all the right traits for success. First and foremost, as an avid reader, she knows books. A lot of them.
“I try to limit myself to one book a day so I know I’m not addicted,” Mueller laughed.
The former number-cruncher and lifelong page-turner has a few ideas about how to breathe new life into the bookshop. And with her bursting-at-the-seams energy, along with the small army of family and friends helping her out, many of those ideas have already been put into action.
Hoping to tap into and expand on the shop’s community spirit, Mueller has scheduled a string of local authors to make in-house appearances at the store while also launching a fundraiser to donate books to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Island County.
Mueller is on the hunt for books for the store as well. Although she’s already increased its inventory by about 50 percent, she wants to fill the shelves even more and is seeking used book donations from the public.
Mueller has plans for an active website, has launched a newsletter for readers, and maintains that while the book shop will remain quaint and community-oriented, she and her staff can quickly obtain any book available.
“We’re a nice mix of an old-fashioned book store and a modern completely online facility,” she said.