Zephyr Books & Coffee in Yreka
It's a Breeze
By Melissa Mendonca
Photos by Taryn Burkleo
The 41 bookshelves that line the walls and create aisles in Yreka’s Zephyr Books & Coffee were installed over a three-month period that took the West Miner Street storefront from such former incarnations as an upholstery business and the Miner Street Bakery to today’s popular third space where locals and visitors alike mingle in conversation or pore over laptops to work. Or peruse bookshelves and quietly choose a new read.
“I walked down each of these bookcases,” says co-owner Guy Scott, who moved the shelves from a business three doors down. “It was arduous.”
The commitment was only one in a series of lessons in timing for the business, which opened on Labor Day of 2016.
Zephyr Books & Coffee is a family-owned undertaking that took root when co-owner Zapata Parra, Guy’s stepdaughter, was 16 and working at the town’s former bookstore down the street. The owners wanted to retire and hoped to support the young entrepreneur as the shop’s new owner. The first ask didn’t take with the young teen. Just a few years later, with a new baby, shop namesake Zephyr, now 14 months old, the idea took root with strength.
Around the same time, Zapata’s mom, Debbie Scott, was changing careers due to new regulations in the home daycare industry. She’d started a baked goods business, focusing on organic ingredients and local produce as the seasons permit, which she sold at local farmers markets.
Realizing they could combine talents in one storefront, and use Guy’s skills as a retired contractor to upgrade a building, the family set out to open the space named in honor of its youngest member, who finds it as much a second home as anyone.
“The business evolved naturally,” says Debbie of the bookstore that started with 14,000 titles from the old store and has grown significantly with mostly used books. “Once we decided to do baked goods, the coffee came on board, and then the espresso came on board. And then the high-end coffee came on board.” Zephyr Books & Coffee serves from Northbound Roasters, just down the freeway in Mount Shasta.
“They’re meticulous in the way they choose their coffee beans,” says Debbie. “It’s all organic. We place an order every week so it’s really fresh.” Adds Guy, “They trained us. They came in and spent two weeks with us.”
Such a close relationship with a local business is all part of the plan for the family, who relish bringing people and ideas together. Says Debbie, “It’s really important for us to represent local business as much as possible. In the summer, I work with local farmers to get their fruit.” Having noticed that the store attracts as many tourists as locals, she adds, “We really want to be an advertisement for our area.”
While the store holds mostly used books, they maintain a stock of new children’s and young adult titles, as well as local history and Bibles. Patrons can receive store credit for used books they bring in. Says Zapata, “I love used books because they have so much history in them. They’ve been on an adventure all their own.”
While she appreciates history, Zapata brings the modern perspective to the business. She designed the store’s logo and maintains a social media presence, taking particular care to craft intriguing photos for its Instagram page.
The mix of perspective and talents of the Scott-Parra family has created something special for the people of Yreka. “This is my second home,” says Billy Syms, a writer, poet and recording artist. “I come here to play and sing, work out new songs. I get a lot of inspiration being here.” Syms, an almost daily patron, says that the the time in community with others is as important as the good coffee and pastries. “It was very instrumental in my recovery from leukemia,” he adds.
As a true third space – a gathering spot away from home and work/school – Zephyr Books & Coffee attracts a large cross section of Yreka’s population. After school, it becomes a popular teen hangout. Community groups meet for Bible studies and book clubs. Yreka’s famed Red Scarf Society holds meetings there. Live music is played all day on Fridays.
When local musicians aren’t in house, vinyl records play on the sound system. “You want to flip the record?” is a common question heard throughout the day, but the vinyl vibe seems to be right in line with the goal of the space.
While they may be changing records a bit more often than they’d like, timing has been everything for this family business. “This all just happened at the ideal time,” says Zapata. “It all fell into place.”
Zephyr Books & Coffee • 328 W. Miner St., Yreka
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