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photoChristine and Patrick Janikowski, new owners of Trail’s End Bookstore, with their son, Christopher Janikowski, who will manage the business. Christopher moved to Winthrop from Brooklyn, N.Y. to take his “dream job.”

Trail's End Bookstore changes hands

A trio of avid readers, who believe there always will be a place for physical books and small, independent bookstores, has purchased Trail’s End Bookstore in downtown Winthrop.

Patrick and Christine Janikowski are the new owners as of January 31, the day the sale closed. Their son, Christopher Janikowski, is the new manager. All have been valley part-timers for the past few years.

Patrick Janikowski, is principal architect at PJA Architects and Landscape Design, a Seattle-based firm. However, because he designs zoos and theme parks all over the world, he spends many hours on airplanes – often reading.

Christine, a native of Germany who met her husband while he was working on Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, is business manager at PJA. “I manage everything at home while Patrick’s out being creative,” she said.

“I’m always reading,” said Christopher, who’s spent the last seven years living and working in Brooklyn, N.Y., where most recently he managed an antique furniture store specializing in mid-century modern, which is to say, “1950s Danish.”

He told Grist that he and his girlfriend, Mary, were just about to go out on New Year’s Eve when he got an email from his dad saying, “ ‘I have a business proposition for you. You need to talk it over and get back to me.’ ” They talked and called him back before going out the door.

A voracious reader since he was a small boy, Christopher said he and Mary, who recently received a master’s degree in media studies, had talked about having their own small business. “This is like a dream come true,” he said. “Being able to take over a much-loved, established institution” [like Trail’s End] is such a great opportunity.”

photoChristopher Janikowski is a voracious reader, which is reflected in more than one piece of body art. He says “Read More” was his second tattoo.

That opportunity came about because the Janikowskis were having dinner with friends in the Methow Valley over the holidays. Someone said the local bookstore had to sell or be closed. They couldn’t imagine not having one of their favorite local stops. “Every time we come…we pick up one or two books,” said Patrick.

“It looked like a good opportunity for us as a family,” added Christine. They did their “due diligence” on the business side of things, but needed Christopher to manage the store if they decided to buy it. He readily agreed.

“I’m really honored to be able to represent a huge part of this community,” Christopher said. He added that the bookstore is “in capable hands” and invited the public to “come in and say hello.”

Avid motorcyclists and bicycle riders as well as skiers, Patrick and Christine Janikowski first arrived in the Methow Valley some years back on their Harleys. Five years ago they bought a house off Wolf Creek Road outside Winthrop, where they’ve been spending more and more time. Their goal is to be half-timers. The bookstore “gives us an anchor in the community…and a way to meet more people,” Patrick said.

Christopher, whose outdoor pursuits include hiking and cycling, has visited the valley every winter recently. Asked if he will miss city life, he replied, “I do like the city as well but being out here is a change from the bustle of Brooklyn.”

photoChristopher Janikowski checks the shelves. He has been working through the transition to new ownership with former store co-owner Julie Tate-Libby.

But his love of books and reading obviously trumps all else. “My house is full of books,” he said. His favorite genres are science fiction, fantasy and history although he is an omnivore. He also collects books, including first editions of Stephen King and first editions of 1950s sci-fi and fantasy.

As if to underscore his early passion for reading, he reveals that he was named for Christopher Robin, the character in “Winnie-the-Pooh” based on author A.A. Milne’s son.

Christopher Janikowski also has several tattoos based on books, including the words “Read More” across his feet.

“I’m not planning on changing much,” he said of his management plans. “I’ll keep the same staff. I’m pretty much going to listen to the community and the customers.”

And he is not worried about the demise of independent bookstores elsewhere. “It’s true that Amazon and e-books have put a big dent in physical book [sales], but they’re hurting the big box stores more than indie book stores that are supported by the community,” he said. “You’re part of something bigger,” when you go into a small bookstore.

“Nothing compares to cracking open a book and sitting down and relaxing,” said Christine, adding, “I don’t think that [experience] will ever go away… We are just totally excited about doing this.”

The Janikowskis purchased Trail’s End from Ken Libby and Julie Tate-Libby, who bought the store in 2010. The Libbys added an espresso machine, a periodical section and a back deck overlooking the Methow River during their ownership. However, the couple found it difficult to run the small business while trying to juggle other jobs and raising a family.

"We will stay [in the valley] for the foreseeable future," Tate-Libby said after the sale. She teaches sociology and anthropology for Wenatchee Valley College in Omak and said she will concentrate on her teaching. Ken will continue to work construction. They have two daughters.


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