“Walking inside is an invitation to leave the grown up world behind and just be a kid again.”
I wrote that my first time visiting Green Bean Books when it opened back in 2009. I just loved that such a place existed and that I’ve been part of it as a children’s bookseller for ten years now. To commemorate celebrating working there for a decade- July 26th was my anniversary-, I decided to make a list of my top 10 moments and memories there.
Of course, I have to thank my boss Jennifer for creating such a wonderful and magical bookstore in the first place. It’s truly been such an important space not only in the neighborhood but, I think, in the city of Portland as well. That I get to be associated with it at all has been incredible.
I’ve enjoyed showing people around the store and hearing their oohs-and-aah’s whenever they come across something delightful.
On a personal note, she’s also been very kind and generous. I tend to tell customers I feel like a proud dad for everything she’s done and accomplished with Green Bean Books.
The first craft event I did was making paper ball pumpkins. I was a bit nervous because it was sort of complicated.
My first author event I ran on my own was for Christopher Healy’s The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.
The first shelftalker I did was for The Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis.
I’ve enjoyed the opportunities to be creative making event signs and shelftalkers.
I’ve loved getting to interact with voracious readers and kindred spirits and getting to talk books with them. Luckily, we are in a Golden Age of Children’s Literature which makes my job easy. And, I think, everyone- especially adults- should be reading kids books to be reminded of good storytelling and important lessons only such characters as Frog and Toad and Harold can teach.
It’s great to be part of the bookselling community. While it is a business, I think we all try to do our best to connect readers with the perfect books for them. It’s not necessarily about the sale but getting them excited about books and perhaps making a lifelong reader out of them.
It’s always fun to go to conferences like the Children’s Institute and the PNBA Trade Show to be with peers. And, of course, it’s always fun to meet authors, illustrators, and everyone else in the book business.
I’ve been inspired and amazed by the creativity and kindness of the kidlit community. Whether I’ve seen them do events at the store or they just stop by to support an independent bookstore, there’s just a feeling of goodwill. I love seeing other creators come support their friend by buying their books.
As an aspiring published writer, some have even offered me wonderful tips and advice. There’s no ego. We just want one another to succeed.
Green Bean Books has held amazing in store events. We’ve been so fortunate to have so many authors and illustrators do readings there. I definitely geeked out when Dan Santat was there. And Don and Audrey Wood were so love that I wanted them to adopt me.
Some off-site events we had that I loved were at the Alberta Rose Theater for separate readings with Gene Luen Yang and Kate DiCamillo and at the Portland Book Festival and getting to talk to Kazu Kibuishi.
Plus, there have been drag queens, llamas, an alpaca, a mermaid, a Stormtrooper, and the Unipiper in the store, too.
I’ve been fortunate enough to dress up as two classic picture book characters- The Poky Little Puppy and The Very Hungry Caterpillar (twice). Especially with the latter, it was so fun to see both kids and grown-ups reactions interacting with these characters.
Other favorite events I helped run that I enjoyed were moderating the Family Book Club and holding a Junior Bookseller Camp.
I admit I do love getting recognized for my work as a bookseller. (Not so much the moment it’s happening but afterwards when I’ve stopped squeeing inside.)
It was very nice Jennifer made a Mister Earl finger puppet.
And, of course, super flattering was getting featured in Portland Monthly!
We have such amazing customers. I’ve had many opportunities to get to know them outside of the bookstore- whether grabbing coffee and a bite to eat with them, watching shows, ice skating, and doing tai chi, just to name a few activities.
Some of my favorite customer memories are book related. One was helping a mom put on an author and illustrator event at her son’s school. She really thought of everything. It was impressive. Second was helping a lady give out books to her neighborhood kids during Halloween. I’ve done it every year since 2012- except 2020, of course- and it’s still something I look forward to.
And, naturally, a list of my favorite moments and reasons working at Green Bean Books wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention my co-workers. There’s been so many over the years and they’ve had to endure lots of my personal stories and weird jokes. I’m glad I can call some of them friends.
If I didn’t procrastinate writing this blog post, it would have been better edited and it would have included pictures. But I hope anyone reading this can tell how much I love and appreciate being a bookseller- and that ten of those years have been at Green Bean Books.