written by Peter Murphy | photo by Mike Lemmon
Out rural Oregon, at the intersection of state highways 206 and 19, you may be surprised to find a Powell’s Books, of the Powell’s City of Books fame.
Condon, population 682, conceals a small branch of Powell’s Books inside its Country Flowers store.
Mike Powell, who started Powell’s with a Chicago bookstore in 1970 and whose father started Portland’s Powell’s shortly thereafter, took an interest in setting up a bookstore in Condon with Country Flowers’ proprietor, Darla Seale.
The way she tells it, Mike Powell was looking for a vacation home not too far from Condon. One day during a visit Seale suggested Powell set up a small bookstore at her flower shop. Circa 1996, Powell’s Books in Condon was born. The offerings are much the same as you’d find in Portland; used, new and eclectic. Seale does get a lot of calls for more children’s books.
“It was a novelty at first,” Seale said. “But it’s not really surprising since Condon was populated by school teachers and ranchers.”
Still, the most frequently asked question is, “Is this really a Powell’s Bookstore?” The answer is, yes. Additional testimony comes from T-shirts that read, “Powell’s Books … Portland … Condon.”