Bookstore Solidarity Project: An Interview with Charlie Hunts, owner of Charlie’s Queer Books in Seattle, WA

Welcome to the next installment of the Bookstore Solidarity Project! Every month, we’ll be highlighting indie bookstore owners and booksellers across the country.

For March, we’re featuring Charlie’s Queer Books, in Seattle, Washington! Charlie’s isn’t the first queer bookstore in Seattle, but it is the first in 20 years. They opened last year, with a focus on diversity and intersectionality in their titles.

Your name and pronouns?
Charlie Hunts (He/him)

Tell us a little bit about the store and your community!
We began as a magic disco-tiled book cart doing pop-ups and then we opened our brick and mortar home in Nov 2023. Our shop is in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. It’s a funky part of town that’s home to a massive bridge troll sculpture, a rocket, former home to a famous clown, and self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe,” so where better to open a queer bookstore? The Seattle/Tacoma area has the third-highest percentage of LGBTQ+ people among the nation’s 15 largest metros only behind San Francisco/Oakland and Boston/Cambridge, so this city was eager to have a “third place” other than nightlife to hang out at.

What got you into bookselling?
I was a college dropout Harley Davidson mechanic who happened to get in a motorcycle accident *shocker* that left me bed-bound for more than a year. In that time, I fell in love with reading! I went back to school as an English major, started my career in publishing, and then pivoted to marketing for different industries. With the onslaught of book bans, anti-LGBTQ legislation, and the need in the market for queer spaces, I felt like the time was right to return to books.

What’s something about your store that you think will surprise people?
The Seattle Times said we have the best bookstore bathroom in the city. Seriously.

What are some of you favorite ways your community supports your store?
In the short time we’ve been open we’ve had everything from a couple’s first kiss under our mistletoe, to a wife and wife who gifted each other the same book, both purchased here. SO gay, ha. We have a great mix of tourists, locals in the neighborhood, and folks who seek us out. We have our upstairs dedicated to community hangs with tables, reading nooks, and a meeting space. They have shown up big time at our events too.

What are two books you can’t wait for people to read, or your current favorite handsells?
Love After the End and Gearbreakers. Our top-selling non-book item is the Ronald Reagan’s Grave is a Gender Neutral Bathroom sticker.

How can customers who aren’t local shop your shelves?

Be sure to follow Charlie’s Queer Books on Tiktok, Facebook, and Instagram, and check back in a few weeks for their podcast episode!

You can read our other Bookstore Solidarity Project posts here!
And click here to get a copy of How to Protect Bookstores and Why.