The List: Dan Ullom

Founder of Brick & Mortar Books

Photo by Heidi Ullom

Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond has become a community staple since it opened three years ago. Founded by former teacher Dan Ullom and his mother, a former librarian, the bookstore is dedicated to inspiring delight about books in its customers.

“It had always been a dream in the back of my mind,” Ullom said of owning a bookstore. “My mom mentioned that she had the same dream. We researched to see if it was a feasible idea. Banks were reluctant to loan us money, so we did it out of pocket. Redmond has been a great location because people were still missing the Borders Books.”

Pre-COVID, Brick & Mortar centered much of its personality around inviting in authors on a weekly basis, which brought fans into the store for readings and signings. Located in Redmond Town Center, the business typically gets plenty of foot traffic, which Ullom loves. Being woven into the heart of his community is gratifying for him, and one of the best parts of owning a small business.

Though COVID has certainly impacted the business, it’s still chugging along and has a loyal customer base. We caught up with Ullom to hear about what he’s been up to, as well as how the bookstore is adapting.

favorite places

To Relax Soulfood Coffeehouse or The French Bakery in the morning and Big Block Brewing at night.

For Dinner Pomegranate Bistro or Matts’ Rotisserie & Oyster Lounge. I know I will have a great experience every time.

To Be Inspired Arena Sports. I have played soccer there for years, and it is inspiring to see people work hard and get better. There is a lot of creativity on the field.

Inspiration Board

Currently Reading Mexican Gothic and Action Park

Currently Listening to La Luz

Best Professional Advice You Have Received “Open where the foot traffic is.” It helped us eliminate other locations that would not have been as good for us.

Hobbies Reading, soccer, skiing, and mountain biking keep me energized.

Q&A

What sets your store apart from others on the scene?

Successful bookstores are reflections of their communities. We strive to be a reflection of our community. My mother was an elementary school librarian, and I was a teacher. We specialize in books for kids, and we have decades of knowledge on how to help reluctant readers. Usually they are not reluctant at all; they just need the right book!

We have been open long enough to know our customers as a demographic and as individuals. I have brought in specific titles because I know Nic, Tyler, Michelle, or Casey would have an interest. All real examples from the last month of ordering.

What is the most rewarding part of being a business owner?

The most rewarding part is meeting new people and talking about books. I love getting to know the people in our community. I have read some amazing books because of recommendations customers have given me.

The most challenging part?

Finding the time to catch up with my TBR (to be read) pile!

How has COVID changed the way you’re doing business?

We have started curbside pick-up, local deliveries, and mailing out books. COVID has had an impact on our business, though it has also given us the opportunity to learn new skills and ultimately become a better store.

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is an assistant editor at 425 magazine.
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