Cody and Josh Alvey are living their go-to fantasy.
All her life, Cody has wanted to own a bookstore.
“I had no idea we’d actually end up doing that,” Josh said. “It worked out.”
The couple purchased Gordon Later’s Earl E. Books and relocated it from its 800-square-foot location on Fern Street to a 1,200-square-foot, bright and airy storefront at 547 Chetco Avenue in Brookings.
The shop, Forecastle Books and Coffee, opened on Sept. 3.
Later, who popped into the store Thursday afternoon, couldn’t be more excited about their endeavor.
“Cody’s got a love of books and knows where to find the information,” he said. “That’s a big part of the book business.”
“Well, I have many resources,” she said, smiling. “And I can always go to Gordon.”
Cody created her own college degree in literary entrepreneurship at the University of Louisville, Kentucky.
“It’s always been my go-to fantasy,” Cody said. “To move to Oregon and open a bookstore.”
Little did she know how much she was already connected to the little coastal town.
When she was 14, her aunt and her traveled to what she remembered was Grants Pass for a vacation, and stayed on a boat bed-and-breakfast. She always wanted to return.
“We just packed everything up and drove out here,” Josh said. “I was 99 percent sure I wanted to come and never leave. And in a worst-case scenario, it would be the road trip of a lifetime.
They toured the Pacific Northwest coast and landed in Grants Pass — but it was not what Cody remembered, nor what she had touted it to be to Josh.
“I remembered it as better, as a 14-year-old,” Cody admitted.
So they headed to the coast and stayed on an Airbnb boat in Harbor while they looked for work. Cody was soon hired at O’Holleran’s Steakhouse and Lounge, where the owner, Gary O’Holleran soon figured out he knew Cody’s aunt — and remembered when Cody and her aunt had stayed in the area when she was a teenager.
Cody called her aunt and learned that the bed-and-breakfast boat they’d stayed on all those years ago was the same one she and Josh had stayed when touring the coast.
“From the boat, we could see the ocean, hear the whistle buoy; it was meant to be,” she said. “I just had a feeling. It was meant to be.”
“It’s a miraculous serendipity story,” Josh said.
They soon found Later and knew they wanted his store. More serendipity, Cody said.
Therein came the biggest challenge.
Cody had just given birth to their son, Lincoln, and had been ordered by her doctor not to lift heavy items. Josh can’t drive because he has no peripheral vision. And Later — well, he wanted to retire.
The couple’s new landlord happened to be a member of the Brookings Lions Club, a charitable organization that works with people who are visually challenged.
The couple loaded boxes and boxes of books, and Lions Club members provided the trucks to haul them.
There were 766 boxes, Josh said. At about 50 pounds a box, they hauled 38,400 pounds. There are about 25,000 books. And shelves had to be built, genres delineated — horror, history, non-fiction, hobbies and more — and books alphabetized. The move took six weeks.
“We didn’t know it would be such a challenge,” Josh said. “I don’t know if we’re failing or have lofty goals. One of us is blind, one (Lincoln) is sick, and one (Cody) can’t lift anything.”
Going for a nautical theme, they named it Forecastle Books and Coffee, only later learning that a forecastle, or fo’c’sle in the maritime vernacular, is the sheltered gathering place for sailors — perfect for a cozy shop in a coastal town.
Cody’s motto at the store will be, “If you want it, we can find it.” She’s had 15 of those special orders already.
The store primarily features used books, but new ones are there, as well. And if not, Cody said he can get it. Soon, coffee will be available, and the couple eventually wants to be involved in the Second Saturday Art Walk, offer space for local artists and feature musicians on the deck outside.
Later’s enjoying their experience vicariously.
“I miss talking books with people,” he admitted. “But I’m excited for them. They’re where I was 27 years ago.
“It was at a place in life where the business needed fresh blood, to broaden its scope,” he continued. “That’s what this community needs.”
Josh admitted he’s a little scared — OK, terrified — about their new venture. But Cody has high hopes.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s a dream come true. We’re working together and making money and get to be in a great town and raise our family.”
Forecastle Books and Coffee is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.