Reported today on The Seattle Times
The next chapter: Kodiak residents open bookstore
KODIAK, Alaska - For Kodiak residents who want to buy books, thrift stores and online shopping have been the only option. But Melissa Haffeman and Lacey Tucker are about to change that.
The Islander Bookshop is open at 1315 Mill Bay Road, bringing a collection of 3,000 books and handcrafted gifts to Kodiak shoppers.
"The shop has always been a dream of mine," Haffeman said. She graduated from Kodiak High School and worked in education for 17 years, most recently serving as the principal of Kodiak Middle School. But when devastating news hit her family, she decided to make a change.
"Life changed suddenly for our family in April. Out of the blue, my dad experienced paralysis in both his legs in a week's time," she said.
"We flew up to Anchorage and got a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer."
But if you're the principal of a middle school, you can't easily step away. She decided to step down from the role.
Her father moved in with the family, but they realized that there is enough help in Kodiak, through hospice and palliative care, and Haffeman missed working.
"The reason why I have always worked in education is that I felt I could give back to my community. That's central to what motivates me," she said. She began seeking a different way to contribute to the community, and the idea for a small business was formed.
With the help of the Alaska Small Business Development Center, Haffeman searched for the right business plan that would be profitable and fit the Kodiak community.
"I've always loved books. I write little books for my kids. Kodiak has the legacy of the Shire Bookstore, which I worked in when I was in high school. It had Next Page, and so many people miss that," she said.
She learned that while bookstores decl