PORTLAND, Ore — The oldest bookstore in Portland is closing. Cameron’s Books has been a staple downtown at 3rd Avenue and Harvey Milk Street for decades. However, the owner of the building will not renew the bookstore’s lease.
Walk inside the store and you will find a collection of books and vintage magazines not many places carry.
“I've got some 1950s Bazaars,” said customer Lawrie Morey as she checked out at the counter.
The shelves are practically overflowing.
“It's really disappointing because there's no other place like this,” Morey said. “It's just wall to wall stuff to look at.”
Cameron’s Books opened in 1938. But for the last 31 years, there has been one person who can tell you where to find what you are looking for. Current owner Jeffrey Frase took over in 1989.
“It's been, you know, for the most part a really good 31 years, and so all things have to end sooner or later,” Frase explained.
Frase knew he would have to retire one day, but he is not quite ready.
“You know, (I’m) used to coming down here six days a week, you know, for years now, so it's hard to think of just stopping that routine and I'm a creature of routine if not anything else,” Frase said. “You know, I don't like, I guess that's what makes this hard is I'm averse to change and I know that has to happen and it will happen regardless, but I don't have to like it.”
Many of Frase’s customers do not like it either.
“I am very sad,” said customer Amber Coats. “It smells like books in here. It smells better than the library. I'm not even playin.”
“It's a great piece of Portland history, you know, just an old business that's been around for years and years and years,” Morey said.
About a year ago, the building sold to a knew owner. Frase said the new owner was contractually obligated to continue leasing to the current tenants at the same rate for a year. But, now that the year is up he said he got a letter telling him he has to be out by December 1. Frase said he was not given a chance to renew his lease.
Former employee, Crystal Zingsheim, is now hoping to save Cameron’s Books.
“It's so sudden,” Zingsheim said. “Jeff and I had been planning this for a long time, just not now.”
Zingsheim runs the rare book section online and now hopes to take over the store from Frase. She started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to re-open the store in a new location.