Warnock has spent the last 35 years in real estate.
“I had nothing to do with books,” she said, adding that she had no book experience before that.
Still, the Salmon Creek woman has been planning her bookstore for about a decade. In 2016, she went so far as to join the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association as a prospective bookstore owner.
She started going to the annual conventions and contacted the American Booksellers Association. She began absorbing everything she could about the industry.
“I have visited every bookstore that I could drive to,” said Warnock.
Warnock didn’t have a timeline for her dream. She and her husband spent several years looking for the right location. After a location was decided on, the COVID-19 pandemic put their plans on hold.
“We kind of decided not to do it,” she said, slowing down because of her and her husband’s age, COVID and also the uncertainty of the commercial development they’d planned to occupy.
But she couldn’t let go of the idea.
“We went back in full force, and that’s when we ended up signing the lease,” she said.
Warnock ended up in a store across the street from where she’d planned to be right before the pandemic. The new space, though small, was nearly two stories inside.
“It ended up having a lot more character,” she said.
Warnock has found the old adage of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” to be false.
“I did learn a whole other business,” she said.
Warnock’s shop is just under 1,400 square feet. Because of its size, she limited her inventory to all new books. But what her inventory includes broadly covers both fiction and nonfiction.
The shop has what Warnock calls a wonderful young adult section and an excellent childrens section.
“We’ve tried to make that really, really big because I just love pulling young people into reading,” she added.
When she was ordering books, she decided to create an offering for customers that would include a wide variety of reads. She plans to hone in her inventory based customers’ wants, however, as time goes on.
Copper Bell is one of many businesses that has opened in Ridgefield recently, accompanying the city’s booming population. Warnock knows that she’ll need a lot of business to keep the shop sustainable.
“I definitely call it a labor of love,” she said. But even before the shop opened, she’d gotten support from the community.
As Warnock was getting the shop put together, she’d have five to 10 people a day pop in to see what was happening.
“We’re just totally blown away by that wonderful reaction, so we’re hoping that parlays into business when we open,” she said.