The largest independent bookstore in the world, now three generations strong, was founded on a simple yet revolutionary idea: Give shoppers a true diversity of books by mixing new and used, hardcover and paperback, all on the same shelf, and surround them with knowledgeable staff members. Thanks to that formula, Powell’s Books now comprises four full-service bookstores including the 68,000-square-foot City of Books, one specialty store, and a website offering over four million books and acclaimed original content.
Powell’s began as a small storefront in northwest Portland in 1971. Walter Powell, a retired painting contractor, fell in love with bookselling after working at his son Michael’s bookstore in Chicago one summer. Walter opened up his own shop in Portland and quickly bought up a massive supply of books. He later expanded into a former car dealership, which would become Powell’s flagship Burnside location.
In 1979, Michael Powell joined his father, purchasing the store two years later. An active member of the civic and literary communities, Michael has played a prominent role in shaping Portland’s cultural scene, and his reach extends internationally within the book world. Due to his innovative leadership, Powell’s has evolved into a book lover’s paradise, boasting a packed schedule of literary events, a rich online experience, and a deeply devoted fan base.
Powell’s remains a family-run operation to this day. Emily Powell, daughter of Michael, took leadership of the company in 2010 and continues to keep it at the forefront of innovative, passionate bookselling.
August 25 – Downtown Block Party!
They’re taking the celebration to the street. Music, authors, food, games, beer … It’ll be fun for all ages! Join them from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Couch St. between 10th and 12th avenues — right next to the downtown store. You won’t want to miss this prime summer event.
August 29-31 – Anniversary Fun: PDX-style
Their airport stores will be hosting three days of games and music, plus numerous activities and in-store giveaways! If you’re doing some traveling at the end of the month, make sure to leave extra time to stop by and enjoy the fun.
Check out their website: Powell’s Books