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Moonraker Books in Langley: A traditional bookstore where you'll want to wander

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Josh and her husband, Glenn, opened Moonraker Books in Langley in 1972 and, at the time, were one of the few retail stores on 1st Street. After more than 40 years in business, Josh still loves greeting customers and helping them find a particular book.

Josh and Glenn were living in Laguna Niguel, California before their move to Whidbey. They had been talking for some time about finding somewhere else to live and raise their family. Glenn suggested the Pacific Northwest, and remembered the beauty of the area from a trip he had taken up in the late 1940’s. Josh’s memories of the Northwest were quite different. Both times she had taken a trip through Portland it was cold, grey and rainy.

When Glenn suggested they move to the Seattle Area, Josh responded, “I wouldn’t touch that place with a 10-foot pole!”

But, they were both weary of the look and feel of Southern California. She agreed to begin looking at Northwest possibilities. First they checked out Southern Oregon. Then, they took a trip further north, camped at Deception Pass and drove south down Whidbey, went through Bayview and drove into Langley. The beauty of Whidbey grabbed them. And, they agreed they would make the move. They put their California house on the market in 1971, and made their way to the Northwest with their two children, Kateen and Barry, as soon as it sold.

While shopping in Langley soon after their arrival they noticed a “For Sale” sign in the window at 209 1st Street. Glenn was a retired Marine Corps pilot, and they were looking for something they could do to support their family (their children were in junior high school at the time). Glenn said. I can fly a plane. Josh remembers saying, “I can read,” followed by Glenn’s comment, “Let’s do a book store.”

And, that was the start of Moonraker Books. A “moonraker” is a sail at the top of the mast of a sailboat, but for Glenn and Josh the name represents daydreaming. They believed that a major attraction of a bookstore is exploring and dreaming. At that time, it was easy to buy books from wholesalers and resell them. Josh says, “I knew what I liked and I thought I could make a good guess what others would like to read.” They weren’t sure the bookstore would be a success, but people came to check it out and kept returning and telling others about the Moonraker.

Josh, whose husband died two years ago, still runs the bookstore 42 years after its opening. She admits to being driven by a high degree of persistence. But, she adds, the secrets to her success are “I love books, and I love people.”

Josh is pleased with how much the store has responded to the changing needs and interests of its customers. On the website it is noted: “Our customers have grown up with us and are now bringing their children and even grandchildren to be introduced to the joy of books.”

Come visit Josh, or Nancy, Josh’s right hand, or Matt, able assistant, at 209 1st Street in Downtown Langley. Give Josh a call if you want her to order a book: 360-221-6962. Check out the website:

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