CIBA has been thrilled to welcome more than 15 new bookstore members so far this year. In place of our usual member interview, we invited some of our newest members – School House Teaching Supplies, Gold Rush Bookstore, and Books Galore – to introduce themselves in their own words.
Read on to learn a bit about each of these wonderful stores!
School House Teaching Supplies & Children's Bookstore (Victoria, BC)
CIBA: Can you tell us about your experience running an independent bookstore?
Lovely Sidhu: School House Teaching has been a staple on Vancouver Island for more than 35 years and has a storied history. It was started as a home-based business by David Bird and soon found a home on Douglas Street. This is our current location, but it has doubled in size since then. Over the years, the business has been owned and managed by a handful of people including Lynn-Dell and Lekh Goorachurn. I took over the business from Lynn-Dell and Lekh in 2019 after working at the store for a few years.
I was born and raised in India. After completing an MBA in International Business, I worked in logistics in Mumbai and volunteered at a community school there, helping kids facing difficulties reading. After leaving India and travelling across North America, I settled in Victoria. I fell in love with the community of families, educators, and kids that I interacted with through my work at School House.
Purchasing the business and building the brand was not without its struggles. From tirelessly working with community partners to hiring expert team members, there is no shortage of challenges in owning a small business. But the rewards make every challenge worthwhile. As a bookstore owner who also represents a minority community, my goal is to bring more diverse children's books to schools and libraries. I’m proud to say that we have the largest collection of Indigenous resources in Victoria and I’m currently building our collection of Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu books for children.
Gold Rush Bookstore (Rossland, BC)
CIBA: Can you share some recent or upcoming releases that you’re most excited about? Alternatively, do you have any favourite backlist titles?
Michelle Fairbanks: Located in the West Kootenay region of BC, our store is entering its sixth year in business. We are located on Washington Street in downtown Rossland, and we offer an array of new and gently used books. The store also carries a variety of unique gifts, tasty treats, wool, local art, and much more. We wholeheartedly support local Rossland businesses and the tourists that visit our ski/bike town.
In store and online, you’ll find many books about the history of our “golden city” and the 1890s Gold Rush boom. We also love recommending books by local authors who reside in our area including Jayne Doxtator, Greg Nesteroff, Shelley Adams, Yolanda Ridge, and Richard Kemick (to name a few).
Some other favourite titles that do extremely well in our store are:
Books Galore (Port Perry, ON)
CIBA: What is something our readers might be surprised to learn about your store?
Bill Minors: I’ve owned Books Galore since 1995. Originally a banker in Scotland, I’ve been in the book business since 1972, mostly in sales marketing, including a stint in New Zealand. With 50 years of experience, I’m uniquely qualified to offer whatever is current in publishing. People constantly come in to buy books for loved ones, relying on my expertise to make the right choice. They say: “You have never let me down before." No pressure there! Since moving to Port Perry, I’ve also been an active member of the community. I’ve served on the Executive of the Lawn Bowling Club, BIA, Historical Society, Scottish Country Dancing, and I currently volunteer at the monthly Blood Donor Clinic.
The store itself offers both new and used books (paperbacks only). It might surprise some readers to learn that our used books bring in a regular clientele who often bring back the books they’ve purchased – after they’ve read them – so others can pick them up at a discounted rate!