Breaking News
More () »

Typewriters are having a comeback moment at new Port Townsend store

Type Townsend offers digital detox with each mechanical keystroke. #k5evening

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — At this new store in Port Townsend, the revolution will be typewritten.

"We are the digital detox center,” said owner Shelley French.

Type Townsend sells and repairs typewriters. You can also rent them by the hour here. There's no public WiFi to be found. But you can buy a two-buck cup of drip coffee and pound out words that won't go anywhere but onto paper. 

It all began with one broken typewriter. 

“So I bought a typewriter because I was going to write a book and I got it home, got my desk all set up, ready to go, and it didn't work,” French said.  

She took her typewriter to one of the few places left in the state that repairs them, The Bremerton Office Machine Company. She became fascinated by the process of fixing the old machines and ended up becoming an apprentice. Then came an opportunity to buy typewriters in bulk when a collector in California passed away. 

"So my husband and I packed up our motorhome and we drove to Sacramento and packed them all in the motorhome and came back. And that was I think, by that time I had about 200 typewriters," French said. 

Addicted to this form of analog, she opened Type Townsend in December of 2022. 

Retired copy editor Chris Stuart has bought two typewriters from this place. 

"It forces you to slow down when you're typing. Versus when you go fast, the computer can always keep up with you. It's mocking you right?” said Stuart. “Also it has no hidden agenda. You know, it's not trying to mine your data, it's not trying to correct your spelling or grammar.”

Type Townsend is also popular with non-retired folks.  

"I've sold 90 typewriters this year. 40% of them have been to people aged 30 and under,” said French. “The younger folks are looking at getting away from digital."

The most expensive typewriter in the shop is a $1500 dollar 'Harris Rex Visible.' But most of them cost between $150 and $300. And all of them work, thanks repairman to Richard Sloane, who also gives typewriters to kids. He believes making words mechanically helps get them excited about writing. 

“It feels more real somehow when you can actually touch it and see it going and hear it clicking,” Sloane said.

The store has gotten some attention from a celebrity who also collects typewriters - Tom Hanks recently sent them a note (typewritten, of course) saying he hopes to someday visit. 

French says her book plan has now changed. Instead of writing historical fiction, she’s going to write up all the stories she’s heard from customers at her typewriter shop. And yes, her manuscript will be typed. 

KING 5's Evening celebrates the Northwest. Contact us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email.


Before You Leave, Check This Out