Requiem for Book Cache

Requiem for Book Cache

I have no idea why, but this morning I started thinking about Book Cache.  Having moved away from Anchorage in 1990, I am constantly surprised by all the changes.  I did a bit of research and learned that poor little Book Cache had a lot of problems in the early 90s when the big box stores came to town.  They began closing selected branches in the early 1990s, and by the late 1990s all of the Book Cache stores had closed.

When I was growing up in Anchorage in the 1970s and 1980s, on the one hand, life was a lot simpler.  If you wanted a new book, you had your choice between the Book Cache stores and a small handful of Waldenbooks stores.  If the book you wanted couldn't be found there, then you were out of luck.  What were you going to do, drive to Willow and check there?

I often think about how different my life would have been if the internet was around when I was a kid.  For one thing, it could have avoided me a lot of frustration, going from Book Cache to Book Cache, looking for that one book that I couldn't find.  It's hard to explain to people accustomed to shopping and living in the Lower 48 the terrible consequences of a store not carrying something if you were a kid in Anchorage in the 1980s.  There was no "other town," there was no eBay.  If the store didn't have it, then you didn't get it.

On the other hand, that very situation  - so much better for the consumer; so much more difficult for the small business owner - is what doomed Book Cache.  As I understand it, book shopping in Anchorage is now basically limited to big box stores.  Nothing is good news for everyone, I'm afraid.

The Book Cache that I shopped at most often was a tiny storefront next to the Carr's grocery store, at the corner of Tudor and Muldoon.  I lived nearby, and it was easy for me to pop in there after school and dawdle for a while.  I imagine it drove the cashiers mad to have a kid show up and browse every single book in the Sci Fi/Fantasy section every afternoon.

I also often visited the Book Cache at the Boniface Mall, because that's where my mother liked to shop on the weekends.  (I guess that entire mall is closed now, but really, how many malls does a city need?)  This branch was a lot bigger than the one next to Carr's, and I still remember the layout clearly in my mind.  Science fiction/fantasy, back and to the left!  My mother would usually agree to buy me one book, so I had to choose wisely.  (I remember there was also a great used book store on the second floor of the same mall, so it was like paradise if you were a nerdy, bookish little girl.)

The Book Cache which holds the most special place in my heart was in the Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall.  If I caught the bus downtown after school, I could browse there for a little while before I had to head home.  I still distinctly remember the smell, which was sickly sweet and chemical-y, and largely informed by the flavored popcorn store a few doors down.   (I imagine there aren't many of those left, either.)

Goodbye, Book Cache.  You meant a lot to me, and I will always miss you.