Gold Beach Books
29707 Ellensburg Ave., Gold Beach, OR 97444
In in this community at the mouth of the Rogue River there is a building that brilliantly defines what a “book store” should be. Ted Watkins the founder was a collector of rare books, buying at estate sales and amassing semi-truck trailers full of books over the course of 40 + years. His passion to share led him to build Gold Beach Books in 2003, calling the 12,000 square foot two story structure “The Biscuit Building” after the enormous 500,000 acre fire in 2002 inland from the town.
Ted was a very successful “Philadelphia lawyer”, developing a computer program that enabled large financial institutions to administer national cases in various federal jurisdictions. The program became the foundation of his growing law firm, Becket & Watkins, from a handful of lawyers to hundreds, allowing him to “retire” at 38 to pursue his dream of opening a bookstore on the Oregon coast in the town he vacationed in so often when he lived in Portland, his home town.
His spirit is there still in the first editions by John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Lewis Stevenson and autographed volumes by many of the same. There are book signings, lectures by writers, art exhibits, and concerts that draw crowds from towns far, far away. On any given day the book inventory hovers around 60,000 volumes and for the first 13 years it is said that the store just broke even because Ted kept buying more and more books. Today however, under the dedicated supervision of manager Carolyn Trigueiro, modest profits are being realized and the sisters continue to visit and sift through Ted’s personal things in the upstairs rooms.
Ted Watkins 1957 – 2016
So if you wonder about taking a vacation on the Oregon Coast you might give Gold Beach a close look. There are many fine motels and VRBO accommodations there and endless day trips, by car or foot, you can make. Not to mention the famous mail boat adventures up the wild and scenic Rogue River. The visitors center is well worth the time too, and if you go in the right season, they seed the dunes with replicas of glass Japanese net floats which you can redeem for coupons at local businesses.
And of course, visit Gold Beach Books at all costs. It is open 7 days a week and staffed by people dedicated to Ted’s undertaking. Out of necessity it is for sale and should you know a book collector who would like to retire to the ocean . . .