Clinton to suffer another blow with Anchor Books closure

Anchor Books & Coffee, one of the last meeting places and morning watering holes in Clinton, will make its last cup of joe Dec. 30.

Owners Bruce and Trish Didier, Clinton residents themselves, announced Dec. 1 they would close the cafe and used book store. For the past several months, they tried to sell the business on Highway 525, but to no avail.

“We just don’t have the time to devote to the management of the store,” said Bruce Didier. “And it’s not proving to be profitable, and not something we can continue to subsidize.”

The Didiers — Bruce works in construction and Trish is a second-grade teacher at Coupeville Elementary School — opened the shop in May 2011 to much acclaim after the ferry area went without a sit-down cafe for years.

It became a go-to place for Clinton residents to grab a latte and thumb through old paperbacks while chatting with neighbors and friends. Didier said there are 600 people signed up for trade credit through Anchor Books & Coffee.

But business was hit-and-miss, said one of the store’s employees who called the ferry a blessing and a curse.

“When it’s slow, it feels extra slow,” employee Matt Bell said. “There has to be a good amount of people visiting for us to have decent business. It’s mostly just a Clinton problem — the lack of people in Clinton.”

Situated near the hour-long wait area of the ferry car lane, the business saw some success when ferry traffic was backed up. But Bell said most of the drivers thought they didn’t have time to get out and order a cup of coffee or they’d lose their spot in the car line.

“People just want to go to the ferry,” Bell said.

Losing the shop was another hit to leaders and community organizers in the unincorporated area of Island County. Other notable shops like Jim’s Hardware Store, Good Cheer Too and Wild Birds Unlimited have closed shop in downtown Clinton and relocated. Empty storefronts are becoming more commonplace in one of the highest areas for traffic volume on Whidbey Island.

Traffic in the area was one reason the owner of Jim’s Hardware chose to move to Ken’s Korner Shopping Plaza, a few minutes up Highway 525. The owner, Becky Bell, said South Whidbey residents didn’t want to come to Clinton and deal with the ferry traffic.

“On the heels of the other businesses that have moved in the area, in this case it’s something actually closing, it’s a social gathering place every community needs,” said Jack Lynch, a member of the recently established Clinton Community Council. “It will be missed.”

Lynch, a Clinton resident, was no stranger to Anchor Books.

“I think I was Bruce’s first customer at 7 o’clock the first morning he opened,” Lynch recalled. “He made me a mocha coffee. Not having something in close proximity will be something people will miss.”

People with trade credit at Anchor Books & Coffee must use it by Dec. 24, and the store is no longer accepting books for trade credit. All used books in the store cost $2 or less.

Further reductions and sales will begin in Anchor’s last week of business. Gift cards will expire unless used by the store’s last day, Dec. 30.

All furniture, shelving, the two-group espresso machine and other items in the shop are up for sale. Didier said people may make offers on the store’s wares up until it closes.

Locking the doors for the final time will be a tough turn of the key for the Didiers.

“We really enjoyed becoming a more active part of the community, meeting people, getting involved with the chamber of commerce and the future search and community council,” Bruce Didier said.


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