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Independent book stores aren’t just points of purchase but points of contact for communities

Posted on: May 2, 2022

When customers enter Huckleberry Books in Cranbrook, they might be greeted by Max, and they might not.

Max, after all, is a cat.

“Our shop cat is honestly our best marketing asset,” Erin Dalton, owner of Huckleberry Books said recently over the phone about the SPCA special that heads for the book stacks when he’s had enough people time. “He has a whole posse of callers, I guess you would say. Come in and visit the cat anytime, no purchase required. That’s what I want — a space where you don’t have to buy something to be here. You can just be here.”

Max, after all, is a cat.

“Our shop cat is honestly our best marketing asset,” Erin Dalton, owner of Huckleberry Books said recently over the phone about the SPCA special that heads for the book stacks when he’s had enough people time. “He has a whole posse of callers, I guess you would say. Come in and visit the cat anytime, no purchase required. That’s what I want — a space where you don’t have to buy something to be here. You can just be here.”

Odds are, Max isn’t the only cat lying across a shop counter or sleeping on a sun-soaked windowsill in the 120-plus independent bookstores that dot the country. Feline fixtures are just one of the many reasons people love their local, independent bookstore.

On April 30, indie bookshops will be celebrating their customers with special promotions and in-store presentations as part of Canadian Independent Bookstore Day (CIBD).

“We have so many plans I think we have to whittle it down. We got so excited about doing things in-person. Last year it was all online,” said Dalton, who explained this year will be a hybrid event.

At Western Sky Books in Port Coquitlam, various CIBD plans were in the works at the time of this writing. But one thing was certain, children will be a major focus as the shop, which is 80-to-20 per cent used to new books, has a deep kid/youth literature section.

“It’s a much different experience for parents to come into a used bookstore and be able to walk out with 10 books for their kids because they are cheaper,” said owner Tamara Gorin, adding that during her five years in business she has literally seen kids grow up in her store.

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