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The sign out front on the sidewalk next to the iconic street in the historical downtown echoed Stephen King’s epic words: “Books are uniquely portable magic.”

Inside, was like walking into Diagon Alley with its wizardry and assortment of magical shopping. There are no magic wands or maps to Hogwarts, but customers and passers-by could glance and enjoy the magic table with its tales from the theatre of the minds of various authors prominently on display in the front of local bookstore with its high ceiling, classical lighting and aisles of that portable magic King makes reference to.

Pearl Street Books and Gifts is such a place where people can wade through the thoughts and creativity captured on the pages, written by people with creative flare. A young girl wearing a unicorn headdress made her way up and down the aisles. Her generation would find most of its reading materiel on the Smartphone where scrolling with a thumb motion can find anything in the world at her fingertips.

But on Monday, she was content getting lost in the magic of the written word displayed with ink and binding, with illustrations and pictures not nearly as vivid as those in her developing mind.

King was right, which is why Liz Stone bought the business at the historical location in the Lynch Block, also known as the 1888 Building.

“I started looking into the history of Pearl Street. The building I am in is one of five buildings known to have survived the Great Ellensburg Fire (1888) and the only one still standing,” said Stone, who was born in New York and grew up in Hawaii.

“I think the history of the area is really interesting. I’m learning more about the district, the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame Museum and Clymer Museum across the street. I’m really looking forward to Jazz in the Valley and the other things this area has to offer.”

Stone spent most of her time one island or another in New York or Hawaii. Now she’s settled in in the Pacific Northwest, focusing on addressing people’s reading needs, along with providing a variety of specialty items and gifts. Not to mention, doing a little exploring of her own.

“My husband and I started looking around for areas that we wanted to live. We looked at Wenatchee, then the book store here came available. I’ve always wanted to run a book store and we fell in love with the area.”

The Pearl Street Book Store has a little bit of everything, anything from Harry Potter to Star Wars, to the classics like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Children’s books, history books, how-to books, hiking and outdoor books. There are history books about the people indigenous to the area and those who followed.

Stone’s job, as she sees it, is to allow people to come in and wander, to drift up and down and discover the wonder of the written word … the magic as King puts it. She is also the reference to what’s new, who writes similar to a familiar author or giving a read for the sake of finding someone new.

“Some people come in and make a beeline for exactly what they’re looking for,” she’s observed. “Others like to come in and explore.”

She hopes to establish an active book club, or maybe create poetry readings, maybe even invite a musician or two to come in and play during the evenings. She’d like to make Pearl Street Books and Gifts a gathering place where people can grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat on the avenue, bring the family and make a night of it.

“Right now, it’s just me. I have a couple of part-timers and we’re looking into some ideas,” she said. “I look around at the other businesses, shops and museums and I think, ‘We’re all in this together, we need to encourage each other.’”

There is a new magical place on Pearl Street where the magic of the written word is encouraging people to come and enjoy a bit of history and make their own. Her Hawaiian friends still reach out online.

The book entitled “Aloha Rodeo,” on display on the center aisle speaks volumes for the owner and the operation.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at


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