Thursday, March 03, 2011

HNT - The Next Chapter Of The Little Bookstore That Could

This past Saturday I took a quick trip out to Waterloo to Words Worth Books for the dual celebration of the retirement of Trish and Chuck, the store's founders and original owners and to congratulate Mandy and Dave, long-time employees who are now the new owners.

It was delightful to see the store packed that afternoon with a group of obvious book lovers as if a major celebrity author was appearing.  The celebrities, this day, of course, were the fine folks behind Words Worth Books.  Everyone was there to celebrate what new owner Dave Worsley described in his inspirational speech as "the little bookstore that could."

It reminded me how a store like theirs isn't just a great place to come and hang out, talk about books and meet authors (and let's not forget, to buy books), but it's an integral part of the community.  Waterloo's mayor showed up to say a few words, celebrate the legacy of this 27 year old store and wish the best to the outgoing and incoming owners.

The cultural impact of this small store has long been exponentially larger than the relatively small space it occupies at 100 King Street South. Hundreds of authors (including Robertson Davies, Timothy Findley, Jane Urquhart and John Irving) have appeared at events organized by the store over the years, and they continue to attract a fantastic mixture of local authors and the most sought out well-known authors, who regularly contact them to see if they can come do a book signing with their store. (For example, the time Jean Cretien's publisher contacted them to see if it was okay that the former Prime Minister of Canada dropped in to their store to sign copies of his book)

Chuck Erion and Tricia Siemens were pioneers, well-respected booksellers who have made a difference not just in their local community, but in the greater bookselling industry as a whole because of their regular participation in industry events and activities. Trish was instrumental in bringing the "One Book, One Community" public readings and activities to Waterloo as well as local version of Word on the Street and Chuck was a founding member of BookNet Canada's board of directors and the drive to make the overall book industry more efficient for publishers, distributors and booksellers. They will be missed as they ride off into the sunset of retirement; but one takes comfort in knowing they're still a quick call, email, or Facebook poke away.

Mandy Brouse and David Worsley took over the store on February 1st, and the store couldn't have been left in better hands. Their passion for the business and their dedication to excellence shines through the moment you interact with them. You can feel their connection to their customers and community in the very air. It's easy to see how Dave won the HarperCollins Canada Hand-Selling Award in 2006 and how Mandy won the inaugural Young Bookseller of the Year Award from Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Awards in 2010.

I walked in that afternoon with the intention of congratulating some friends and wishing them the best of luck. I left, a much richer, much more inspired person, thanks to Chuck, Trish, Mandy, Dave and the rest of the staff of Words Worth Books. Thanks, everyone!

So, for this week's HNT shot, here's a picture of me with Mandy and Dave, the next generation of Words Worth Books.

1 comment:

Zephyr said...

I love the small, hometown bookstores. There's nothing like walking in and just breathing in the atmosphere. Wonderful when the right owners are found to keep treasures like this running. :