A Colville Treasure: Coffee & Books in Town Center

By Marsha Michaelis

Colville, WA – Bread and butter. Cookies and milk. Chocolate and more chocolate. Some matches are made in heaven, and Coffee & Books of Colville, a lovely little book and coffee shop in the Town Center building on Main Street, is right up there with the best of them.

Visitors to the shop can find all kinds of wonderful things—books of every kind, coffee of every flavor, stationary, greeting cards, rental DVDs, treats, and a diverse mug selection—all carefully selected for their beauty, substance and goodness.

Alongside these selections, meaningful conversation is served up all day long. Asked about a typical day in the shop, owner Lisa Shinn laughed and said, “Well, we do a lot of talking.” Shinn has a genuine interest in the people who visit her shop, which she purchased 21 years ago with her husband Rod. “I like to get to know people—who they are. God made us social creatures.”

Of course, visitors are also welcome to browse quietly to their heart’s content, and many regulars simply come to sit and read awhile at the store’s little tables and chairs.

Before opening the shop, Rod and Lisa were enjoying an idyllic retirement from his thirty-year career as a physics and math teacher and her work in the tax and business world. They had a thriving market-garden and Lisa was participating in a quilting club with other ladies, turning out dozens of quilts for family and friends.

“Rod came home one day and said there was a bookstore for sale in Colville. He suggested I could manage the books and he would run the espresso bar (being the social one). That was over 21 years ago,” recalls Lisa.

The bookstore they began together has a Christian worldview theme. It carries “lots of history and classics, edifying children’s literature, books that give help and encouragement for marriages and families, and many Bibles and devotionals,” said Lisa. She personally selects every title she carries, and frequently orders books on request or at the recommendation of trusted friends and customers.

As the shop and espresso bar became a hub for local conversation, the book selection took on a local flavor as well. “We learned so much about the history of the people in this area and the people who were drawn to live here,” says Lisa. “We carry most of the in-print local history, plus a large selection of local flora and fauna. Local authors frequently have book signings at the store.”

Sadly, Rod was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease not long after they embarked on their project. “I wanted to close the store, but instead he insisted on coming to work with me until he could no longer do so,” said Lisa. Rod died in 2007 and Lisa continued their project alone, improving every year on their original vision.

“Lisa can get almost any book that has been written, and I think she has read nearly that many—at least the good ones,” said Lisa’s friend and frequent bookstore visitor Dave Robinson. “I like history and feel deprived since it was poorly taught in my public school. [Lisa’s books] have been good for my remedial education. Now I have grandkids who read better and faster, so I find a wealth of used books for them to enjoy and it helps me keep in touch with them.”

Lisa has one employee, retired homeschool teacher Carol Hookham, who manages the shop a couple of days each week. “Carol’s well-read and all the homeschool books she became familiar with over her many years of homeschooling have been a valuable asset in helping customers,” said Lisa.

Carol is the one who arranges many of the store’s artistic displays, and she comes up with fun specialty drink menus to match each season. 

“I once made coffee for an executive from a popular coffee chain, who skeptically took a sip of the hot espresso and then said, ‘This is the best coffee I’ve ever had, better than what we sell.’ Then he ordered another!” shares Carol. “I like serving people’s favorite coffee and helping them find the perfect read. It’s a joy working for Lisa. She’s a humble, kind and gracious woman who is quick to share her faith and time with anyone who comes into the store.”

This reporter has certainly benefited from both Lisa’s and Carol’s thoughtful book and movie recommendations, and Coffee & Books is a go-to source for meaningful gifts for family, students and friends.

A few years after Rod’s death, Lisa met and married Derral White, a combat veteran who loved to study history. Derral and Lisa stayed active in the community through the ballroom dancing club he started, and both served as volunteers in Fire District #5. They enjoyed raising turkeys and sheep and riding their horses until Derral’s tragic death in a horse accident in 2022.

Lisa continues to serve as an EMT and was recently elected to serve as secretary for the Stevens County Emergency Medical Services Council. She participates in local events, such as bringing a relevant selection of books to two outdoor readings of the U.S. Constitution that have been held on the courthouse lawn in recent years, and she has no plans to retire from her bookstore.

“The customers and friends of Coffee & Books have become so much a part of my life,” she said. “Stevens County is a great place to live and my desire is to help keep it that way.”

Next time you’re driving up Colville’s main street, or just looking for a good outing, stop in at Coffee & Books in Town Center: 298 S. Main Street, Suite 103. You’re sure to find a smile along with everything else the store offers.