Drove to Portland Oregon for a weekend getaway with a visiting family member and came across the very useful family travel guide by Marcie in Mommyland on places to visit with young children!
I'm a bookworm (and I'm grooming Gwen into one haha) plus a thrift-hunter at heart so I really wanted to visit...
Powell's City of Books (aka Powell's Used Books) to score great deals!
It turned out that Powell's City of Books was just a short walk away from Hi-Lo Hotel where we stayed (as though I needed more reasons to visit!)
To digress a little, Hi-Lo Hotel is a very inviting place to stay at for small families (but like most hotels there isn't a kitchen so you have to bring a portable stove and utensils for your travel). I love their nicely furnished lobby, which comes with a piano, oversized tic-tac-toe boardgame and sofa swing!
Our Experience at Powell's City of Books
THIS PLACE IS HUGE and maze-like, and that is no exaggeration. Bookworms will literally lose themselves in this impressive universe of books, pun intended haha. It truly lives up to its name of being the world's largest independent bookstore.
There's even a dedicated carpark for visitors, an in-store cafe and an information centre to ask for help locating books and navigating the store from competent, knowledgeable staff.
I approached them asking for the way to the kids' books section and they directed me to the "rose" area. The store is categorised into 9 color-coded rooms and more than 3,500 different sections so it's important to know where to start!
I headed over to the "rose" area where there was a comprehensive selection of board-books for babies and toddlers and hardcover plus paperback books for those of preschool age and above.
I began searching for used books in good condition. I took a number off the shelves and examined their tags but they were all indicated new. Puzzled, I asked a staff member if there was a designated area for just used books. She informed me that new and used books were mixed and placed at the same place, and to tell the difference, the tag would state "used" or "new", like so.
Note that above are two different books so don't do a comparison of the prices above! I noticed that on the whole, used books were about 20-30% cheaper than new ones. Not all book titles have both new and old books, so you have to do a little treasure hunt to find secondhand books for the titles you want.
I didn't expect to spend a good 1 hour at the store and bagging 6 books but I did. The selection of books was great, I found so many titles that I had wanted to get off Amazon but were more affordably priced here. It helps that it's tax-free shopping at Portland! While I scoured the store for books, Gwen kept herself busy with identifying books she already owned at home.
What I like about the store:
- "Staff Pick" book recommendations that are handwritten and cutely illustrated, that makes me stop to read them. The recommended books aren't the usual bestsellers, some are by up-and-coming or less known authors but are just as good
- There's a conducive reading area with a few kid-sized tables and chairs where parents can read to their children
- Free adorable stickers for children at the checkout counters! Need I say more?
- Return pushcarts are readily accessible so if you change your mind you don't have to return them one by one at their original shelves
I was one happy shopper that day! Gwen was really excited to see me buying books for her and even offered to carry them! These are my happy buys and here's a picture of the price tags so you have a sense of the used books' pricing.
Powell’s City of Books
Address: 1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
Opening hours: 9am – 11pm daily (amazing!)
Fun fact: It is the largest used and new bookstore in the world?! It occupies an entire city block and is home to approximately 1 million books. In fact, there are also free public tours of the flagship store every Sunday!
Follow #gweninnature on Instagram for my chronicles of traipsing North America with a toddler and seeing the world through her eyes.
You might also like:
Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.