This old ad cover from the Minneapolis store takes Raymer's back to the 1800s. For now, this is the earliest evidence of its existence I have, but this piece does confirm when the business got started. On the left side under the image of the business' building: Established
Raymer's was no slouch at advertising. They used both sides of this envelope rather judiciously, especially the backside, to promote their business (see image below). And their business included just about everything in the way of books from rare, curious and out of print to specialties in law, medical, school and college text books. And if that weren't enough, they laid claim (front) to the fact that they were the "Cheapest Book House in the West."
This time around with Raymer's, I found a little more information to document their arrival in Washington state. The Spokane Daily Chronicle, has a couple of reports in 1905 announcing the arrival of antiquarian bookseller, Charles D. Raymer,from Minneapolis to Spokane, Washington. The September 15, 1905 issue announces that Raymer's has opened in Spokane at 122 Washington Street.
A few months later, November 29, 1905, Raymer's son, Harry, is reported to be in town helping his father with the store. This blurb also reveals some long-range, ambitious plans for the business. The booksellers will open a chain of antiquarian book stores in both Washington and Oregon--up to a dozen!
The Raymer's move was not just a family pulling up stakes and trying their luck in a new location. At least as far back as the 1890s, Raymer had already expanded his bookselling business west with a shop in Salt Lake City, while maintaining operations in Minneapolis. The Library of Congress archives offer evidence of this with old newspaper articles found online.
The move into the Northwest seems part of an overall westward expansion business plan of Raymer's book business that started at least a decade earlier. I don't know how many stores they eventually opened, but they had to be one of the country's early chain book stores. And they did it with antiquarian stock! That in itself had to be a pioneering enterprise.
As the old century of the "Wild West" came to a close and the 20th century dawned with the excitement of automobiles and flying machines, perhaps the visionary in Raymer saw great opportunity in the mobile, developing New West. If so, that business vision would be based, ironically, on recyled artifacts from the previous centuries. Old books.