A longtime locally owned Tri-City bookstore is opening in new, larger Kennewick digs.
The Bookworm’s new home next to Value Village means more books on the shelves and much more room for Tri-City readers as they browse new and used books.
The bookstore will open its new doors at 731 N. Columbia Center Blvd. 10 a.m. April 27.
Owners Cindy and Mark Bitzer of Pasco decided to move the bookstore because they needed more space. The new location has more than 5,800 square feet, compared to the 2,600 square feet the bookstore had in Marineland Village on Edison Street, Cindy Bitzer said.
Loyal Bookworm customers experienced a brief withdrawal while Bitzer and her six employees finished the move. They discovered that the new space, previously occupied by a former state-owned liquor store, was not up to city code, she said.
Dealing with that unforeseen task delayed the opening. The Bookworm’s last day in its Edison Street store was March 26.
The Bookworm first opened in Richland in 1974. Bitzer is the third owner. She started as an employee in 2005 and bought the business with her husband in 2009 when the previous owner decided to retire.
The couple closed the Richland Bookworm last year, a tough decision because Richland was the bookstore’s birthplace and where Bitzer started working. But the Richland location had been subsidized by the Kennewick store for 15 years.
In the Bookworm’s new store, the walls have been painted a cheerful yellow. The old counters have been repurposed with help from Bitzer’s uncle, Bryan Owen. Now, there also are lower counters at a more convenient height for customers who use wheelchairs. Mark, a teacher and Kahlotus School District’s superintendent, installed new wood laminate flooring.
Bookshelves from the Kennewick and Richland stores hold many of the 250,000 books the Bookworm carries in stock. Comfortable chairs are arranged to give customers a chance to peruse their selections.
Bitzer and her employees also have added a small play area in the children’s books section.
The new location also gives the Bookworm some room to grow, she said.
If there is a book the Bookworm doesn’t have in stock, the bookstore typically can get it within a couple of days. The employees put in orders Monday and Thursday afternoon, with the books delivered the next day.
Patti Hallstrom, one of the employees, started buying books from the Bookworm before she moved to Kennewick about 11/2 years ago. She feels it is important to support local, independently owned bookstores. After some time as a loyal customer, she switched to employee.
“We pride ourselves on great customer service,” she said. “We all love to read.”
Being readers and fellow book lovers helps Bitzer and her employees make suggestions to customers looking for something new to try.
The Bookworm is changing its policy for new book buying, Bitzer said. Now, customers who have a free account with the bookstore will receive 15 percent off new books. That account is the same one used to trade in books for store credit.
The Bookworm will continue to offer stamp cards for new book purchases. For every $100 spent, a customer will receive $10 off a new book purchase, she said. Previously, the discount was $5.
Store credit can no longer be used toward the purchase of a new book. The Bookworm used to allow credit to cover half the price of a new book.
Credit still can be used to cover the full price of a used book, except for the tax.
The Bookworm’s new summer hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The bookstore remains closed on Sundays.
The phone number and email address for the Bookworm still are 509-735-9016 and email@example.com.