The independent bookstore is a cultural and community hub – authors are introduced, works read aloud to an audience and ideas are shared.
Each month, we will be featuring an independent bookstore from across Canada, proving what a special role these shops play in fostering authors, community and a love of reading. For March, we are featuring Greenwoods’ Bookshoppe.
1. Tell us a little bit about the history of Greenwoods’ Bookshoppe.
Siblings Gail, Brad and Laurie Greenwood opened Greenwoods’ in 1979 in the historic and funky neighborhood of Old Strathcona in Edmonton.
2. What made the owners want to open a bookstore?
Gail got her start at the U of A Bookstore in textbooks and Laurie worked part-time there until she was hired on at Audrey’s Books. In the Spring of ’79 Brad had just earned his B.A. and, after many discussions with our parents, we started looking for retail space and opened in the Fall.
3. What do you like best about your job?
Having the right books at the right time and forging relationships with our customers who trust our staff choices and recommendations. We’re proud to have three generations of book lovers shop with us!
4. What does the book-buying public understand least about independent bookstores?
We think there’s a perception that we don’t offer a large selection and we’re expensive. Given this is the age of e-books and on-line discounting, the hardest job we have is to educate and encourage consumers, especially the 20 – 30 somethings, about shopping local and preserving the role of indies in their community, no matter what business that is. After all, they support their local pubs and eating establishments – we’re no different.
We opened with a large Staff Choices section, all fiction, grew our children’s book department and have an excellent reputation for acquiring special orders including “out of prints”. Most importantly, our staff has always been the best and brightest in the city.
5. What are some of your favorite titles? Kids titles? Titles coming out this spring?
Looking forward to Map of the Sky by Palma and Hero of Wondla by Diterlizzi (both published by Simon and Schuster).
6. What are you reading right now?
As of this writing, I have no time. Book buying season is in full swing! New Spring/Summer titles are coming out so publishers will be us what we should be reading. LOL!
7. What’s your most current best seller?
Our leading titles are Coppermine by Keith Leckie , Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James and Sister Brothers by Patrick De Witt. For young readers, Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Press Here by Tullet, and Fault In Our Stars by John Green.
8. What have been some of your favorite (or most memorable) author events?
Our most famous and memorable event came in 1992. Ms. Gloria Steinem came to our fair city. We sold 1200 tickets for her appearance at the Convention Centre and everyone came plus more! It was an experience we’ll never forget.
9. Any strange, wild or crazy-but-true stories from your days at Greenwoods?
At the height of Anne Rice’s popularity with her Vampire Lestat novels, we were fortunate to host a signing one late winter afternoon. Five-hundred plus stood in line, many outside. Her most ardent and dedicated fans in front of the line had taken the time and effort to “make-up” – white faces,black lipstick, scars, a little blood – you get the picture. Ms. Rice was delighted and praised their efforts. Even though Lestat is one of our favourites too, we didn’t expect that!
10. Is there anything else you would like to tell our blog readers?
Independents are reading bestsellers so if you love books — we’re your go-to destination! There is always a selection of staff choices on our website, Facebook, Twitter plus author event dates and announcements. We’re part of your community – shop local and keep it original. Cheers!