Anchor Books and Coffee celebrates second anniversary with weekend events

Posted in Culinary, Feature

BY LAURA STANGEL SCHMIDT
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
May 1, 2013

The place to be this weekend is Anchor Books and Coffee to help owners Bruce and Trish Didier celebrate their second year of being South Whidbey’s hub for books, coffee and community events.

Bruce Didier hangs out with a customer at Anchor Books and Coffee in Clinton. (David Welton photos)

Bruce Didier, right, hangs out with a customer at his cafe, Anchor Books and Coffee in Clinton. (David Welton photos)

Anchor’s Second Anniversary Celebration is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5.  Easy to find, Anchor is located at 9289 SR 525, less than a mile from the Clinton ferry dock.

Colorful signs in the windows of the charming, old-west-style building promise visitors and islanders alike the best of all things Whidbey — Mukilteo Roaster’s coffee, Sweet Mona’s chocolates, Whidbey Pies, as well as Anchor’s own house-baked goodies, including Trish’s popular cinnamon pullaparts.

And, of course, there are shelves and shelves of top-quality used books to discover, as well as plenty of new titles by Whidbey authors.

During the anniversary weekend, Anchor’s café will offer several Thank-You-to-Our-Customers Specials.

Folk singer Al Benson will be there with his vintage 1961 Gibson Hummingbird at 2 p.m. on Sunday to perform 1960’s folk songs from his Northstar Singers Songbook.

The weekend-long celebration ends with a Book Release Extravaganza for Whidbey poet Marci Ameluxen and her newly-published book Lean House. Ameluxen will read selections from her book at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Sherryl Christie-Bierschenk is a regular at the Anchor.

Sherryl Christie-Bierschenk is a regular at the Anchor and calls it the “Cheers” of Clinton.

Anchor opened in 2011 with an inventory of 6,000 books, acquired mostly through scavenging Craig’s List and thrift stores. Today, a mere two years after its grand opening, the shelves are loaded with 17,000 volumes and the exchange system contains more than 30,000 books.

On bright days, chatty customers fill the easy chairs set in front of a long wall of sunny windows.

On greyer days, while grownups settle in with their books and coffee around the bright, blue gas stove anchoring the lounge, kids read and play in the adjacent Kids‘ Room.

The Back Room, currently under construction and slated to open as part of the anniversary celebration, will contain even more shelves to house the ever-growing selection of quality used books traded through Anchor’s 600 exchange accounts.

Readers can bring in their used books and receive store credit based on the publisher’s list price.  They can use that credit for up to 50 percent off the purchase of other used books in the store. A staunch supporter of local writers, Anchor Books dedicates several table-top and shelf displays to new books by 60 Whidbey writers and poets.

You can hear those writers and poets read from their work every month as part of the Meet the Author Series. The series, which started in January 2013, is a collaboration between Anchor Books and Sno-Isle Libraries, Clinton Branch. The idea for the reading series came about when Debby Colfer, Clinton Branch librarian, dropped into Anchor for a cup of coffee and a chat with Bruce Didier.  Didier mentioned that he’d been wanting to host some readings at the store.  That idea thrilled Colfer, who was eager to reach out to people who read, but who don’t always come into the library.

Barista Sarah Aldrich shows the money at Anchor Books and Coffee in Clinton.

Barista Sarah Aldrich is grateful for the tip jar and her generous clientele at Anchor Books and Coffee in Clinton.

“It’s good for the local writers. And it’s good for readers,” Colfer said.  The Didiers stock the books in their store, and Colfer requisitions copies for the library.

The Didiers enrich South Whidbey with more than good books and good coffee.

“Anchor Books and Coffee is our local ‘Cheers.’  They are the hub of the Clinton community,” said Sherryl Christie-Bierschenk, former chair of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, which holds fireside meetings at Anchor from time to time.

Christie-Bierschenk, whose Clinton-based Best Practices, Inc. offers executive coaching and leadership training, said she sometimes arranges to meet her out-of-state clients in Anchor’s conference room at “a mere $10 for two hours.”

When the Clinton Chamber of Commerce was searching for a “downtown” visitors’ center location near the ferry to complement the “uptown” visitors’ center at Ken’s Korner, Bruce donated a prime spot near Anchor’s service counter and constructed the Discover Clinton kiosk.  The Anchor staff manages the kiosk, stocking brochures, trail guides, maps and free advice for things to do all over the island.

Anchor also serves as an occasional town hall, hosting special political and educational events.

A few weeks ago, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen hosted a Meet-and-Greet at Anchor.  Organizers were thrilled by the overflow crowd of 60 drawn in on a weekday afternoon, and after her re-election last fall, Island County Commissioner Helen Price-Johnson held her own Meet-the-Commissioner event at Anchor. Additionally, Anchor’s 2013 Whidbey Earth Day event featured Kate Davies, Ph.D., in an interactive presentation on the U.S. environmental health movement.

Kate Noble, Elizabeth Evans and Eric Levine take in a night of Scrabble at the Anchor.

Kate Noble, Elizabeth Evans and Eric Levine take in a night of Scrabble at the Anchor.

Sometimes, however, it’s just fun and games.

Scrabble Night began as the more generic Game Night, but it soon became apparent that Scrabble was the game of choice.  Every Friday from 5 to7 p.m., gamers set up several boards in the cafe area. All are welcome to play.  A corner shelf overflows with dozens of other games as well, such as Monopoly, Jenga, Yahtzee, Hands Down and Sorry, for those who want an impromptu game at any time.

Best of all, Anchor Events Manager Alex Clark-McGlenn said, all these events are “phenomenally free!” So come say “Hi!” and “Thanks!” to Bruce, Trish, their staff and special guests at this weekend’s big event — Anchor Books and Coffee’s Second Anniversary Celebration.

For more information, contact Alex Clark-McGlenn, Anchor Events Manager, at 360-341-3343. Visit the Anchor Books and Coffee website here.

Meet Whidbey Poet at Anchor Books and Coffee Anniversary Party

Marci Ameluxen will be celebrating the release of “Lean House,” her new book of poems, at Anchor Books and Coffee in conjunction with Anchor’s Second Anniversary Celebration. “Lean House”  was published by MoonPath Press, which is dedicated to publishing only the finest collections of poetry by Northwest writers.

The lyric poems in “Lean House” “are woven through with a subtle basting of narrative.  Inquiring and without an ounce of self pity, Ameluxen’s poems enact the ancient precept of living an examined life,” said Lorraine Healy, author of “The Habit of Buenos Aires.”

Ameluxen said that what drives her poetry is “intensity of experience, emotion, detail, and passion for a stark clean line.” Hear the poet read poems from her book at Anchor Books and Coffee at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 5.

Laura Stangel Schmidt is a mixed-media artist and writer in Langley.                                  

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