Puppet store wants to become a hometown favorite spot
LANGLEY — The owners of Act II Books and Puppets said that after more than two years in Langley, business is booming. But many locals still don’t know the store is in town.
They hope that will change with the recent move from First Street, which is dubbed by many locals as the tourist street, to Anthes Avenue.
“People didn’t even know we were here,” owner Tess Guenther said.
And while hand puppets and children’s books are not goods people need everyday, she said people usually come back once hooked.
Act II Books and Puppets has moved from First Street to
111 Anthes Ave., Unit B, sharing the building with Knitty Purls.
The store carries a wide variety of books, audiobooks and costume hats. They offer fun and rare puppets and make shopping an experience by putting much thought in pairing books with puppets — a storyteller set.
“We get people all the time that have never seen a shop like this,” Guenther said.
Act II Books and Puppets has been in operation since 1989, when they opened their first store in the Tri-Cities.
They started a successful Web site in 1995, and “went totally virtual” in January 1997. The couple now sells their products worldwide.
“Sales from the UK and Europe are way up because of the weak dollar,” said Richard Guenther, Tess’ husband and business partner.
“Educators order from all over the country,” Tess Guenther added.
They opened the store on
First Street in the fall 2005.
But the couple said it is now time to buy their own building after more than two years of renting.
“We always wanted to buy a building, but we thought it was smart to test the market and rent for a while,” Guenther said.
The Guenthers opened the doors at the new location in mid-March after purchasing the building that houses Knitty Purls and completing several weeks of renovations.
“We still have lots of work left to do with the 70-year old building, such as changing its color scheme, but the major update inside is done,” Richard Guenther said.
“We removed three walls from the right side of the building so Knitty Purls has a full side from front to back and we have our puppets and books downstairs on the left side and costume hats upstairs.”
The Guenthers said they couldn’t have made the purchase and move a reality without help.
“Gary Hansen of RE/MAX Seaside Properties helped make the involved purchase possible. Ed Gemkow (Gemkow Construction) was a great help getting approval and making the building changes, and the city of Langley worked with us to use the upstairs for retail, giving this building a shot in the arm,” he said.
The business is growing in the store, but also online. The couple said they were able to be successful because they sell face-to-face as well as on the Web.
“Web sales are always up in the winter, with Christmas, when things are slow in town, and when we’re busy in the store during the summer, the Internet sales are slower,” he said.
Tess Guenther added that despite the success of online sales, people love perusing through the puppets and books.
“There is still something about holding it, looking at it and flipping through the pages,” she said.
The Guenthers invite everyone to come check out their new digs.
Act II Books and Puppets is open daily from 11 a.m. to
Call 221-4442 or visit www.kidsbooksandpuppets.com for more information. The online store is always open.
Michaela Marx Wheatley can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.