23 Jan The debut of indie bookstore Roundabout Books
When Cassie Clemans first dreamed of starting her own business, she knew it needed to involve books. The mother of three envisioned creating a place in her Bend westside community that neighbors and friends could walk to and discover the world of reading. She pictured book club members settling down in comfortable furniture, children cozied up for story time, and patrons sipping coffee from a café. This fall, with hard work and determination, Clemans’ dream was realized when she opened Roundabout Bookshop in Bend’s flourishing NorthWest Crossing.
“We moved to Bend for the lifestyle, which is why most people live in Bend,” said Clemans of her move from Arizona five years ago. “It’s also a great place to raise kids.” In NorthWest Crossing, she says, “We’re surrounded by about six different schools, from elementary school to high school, so the store will be 35 to 40 percent children’s books.” Clemans places emphasis on the shop’s children’s section, which is vibrantly decorated with a Harry Potter theme, as she has fond memories of reading the magical book series with her own children. “The rest of the store will be stocked with adult fiction and nonfiction, including books on the arts, film, theater and Northwest regional culture.”
A former high school science teacher by trade, Clemans has always held reading close to her heart. “I became a book lover in high school and college. I enrolled in electives that allowed me to read, like Shakespeare classes and the study of modern American novels.” As an adult, she joined book clubs and
gathered regularly with a local group in Bend to discuss literature and “find out what other people are reading.”
When Clemans set out to tackle a business plan, she followed the guidance of the American Booksellers Association. She quickly discovered PAZ (a bookstore training group led by Paz and Associates). Inspired to learn more, Clemans flew to Florida and attended the association’s “Bookseller Boot Camp,” where students received a crash course in bookstore management and ownership. “They gave me so much data to work with, it gave me confidence,” she says of the course. “I was really encouraged because data shows indie bookstores are making a comeback.”
Clemans gained an overview of some of the most critical aspects of a retail bookstore’s success, followed Paz’s financial template, and began to plan accordingly. Back home, she tapped into local resources by utilizing the Deschutes Public Library program, Book a Librarian. “The librarian did an amazing amount of research on demographics in the area and gave me resources to use. She helped me write my business plan!” From there, Clemans successfully secured a loan from The Bank of the Cascades and sought advice from a small business group offered at COCC.
The newly constructed Trend Building in NorthWest Crossing, built by Shayne and Angelika Olsen, seemed like the ideal spot for Clemans to set up shop. With a Northwest contemporary style, complimented by wood, steel and glass, it has a warm and inviting tone. The space features floor-to-ceiling glass walls and a western exposure with views of the Cascade Mountains. Olsen notes she’s happy a local business moved in. “The goal was to create a tenant mix that would fit with the NorthWest Crossing lifestyle model: live, work and play. After a few meetings with Cassie, I was very impressed by her. It was clear to me that she had done her homework, and that she had both the passion and ability to make her bookstore dream a reality. Her vision for Roundabout Books included creating an environment for people to gather, and that fit in with my vision for the building as well.”
Roundabout’s café encourages patrons to relax and spend time among the shelves. Baked goods as well as beverages such as beer, wine, and coffee are among the offerings. Students can also visit, as they can walk from nearby schools to grab a snack and check out the middle grade and young adult book selection.
Another way Clemans hopes to welcome the community is with both private and store-led book groups. The website features a calendar to reserve meeting spots, as well as review the latest news in author events and holiday-themed literary parties.
When asked about her favorite genre, Clemans admits she has a soft spot for science fiction and fantasy, but can appreciate storytelling of all types. Roundabout’s 1500 square feet will reflect her choices but also those of her clientele. “People have realized [that] when indie bookstores close we really lose something in the community,” Clemans says. “We lose the feel of the books and a place where we can gather and talk about them.” With the resurgence of local bookstores cropping up around the country and an enthusiastic response from the Bend community, Clemans hopes to be the one to bring back that spot.