A selection of staff picks line a shelf across from the sales counter at Ivy’s Bookshop.
These staff selections, customer service, knowledgeable staff and community involvement, are among the reasons owner Megan Scott maintains there will always be a place in people’s hearts for bookstores.
“It’s the fact the neighbourhood knows us,” she says. “We’re a hub. We get people in here daily whether it’s to buy a newspaper or just check in.”
Scott, who prefers to read British murder mysteries and contemporary British fiction, has been in the book business since 1986, building on a background as a writer, publicist and book representative before buying Ivy’s in 2001. This weekend, the shop celebrates 50 years of page-turning sales with a party on Saturday.
“It really speaks to the community that they’ve supported us that long,” Scott said. “There are not many bookstores that make 50 years. There’s Munro’s and we always consider Ivy’s as Munro’s little sister.”
Community contributes heavily to the longevity of the village shop.
“The fact that we’ve been a part of it for so long. We’ve got grandchildren coming in,” Scott said.
Just last week long-time staffer Shirley St. Pierre said a man visiting from Alberta, who’d come in with his mother as a child, brought his kids to see the village bookstore.
“I love it when the kids come in. … They know where the kids’ section is and make a beeline,” said St. Pierre, who has worked at Ivy’s since 1981. She first worked for original owner Ivy Mickelson who opened the store May 28, 1964.
“She was a real character. Smart and astute,” St. Pierre said. “There’s nobody like Ivy. She was a little bit eccentric and warm and generous. Customers loved her. She was a real bookseller and truly supported authors.”
Three owners later some things haven’t changed, customer service is key.
“I think books are a slightly different commodity,” Scott said. “A lot of people don’t want to go online. They would rather have that personal interaction.”
Scott takes her regular customers into consideration when ordering new stock and calls the women who work for her “truly amazing.”
“The people I work with and the customers,” St. Pierre agrees, are the top perk of the job. “It comes down to people.”
And people, she feels, will always be ready to buy books.
“(Books) have some soul. That’s totally lacking in an electronic device,” she added. “The product, if you call it that, is always interesting, always new and you never know who’s going to walk in the door. There’s always something new.”
Visit Ivy’s Bookshop as it celebrates 50 years with a party Saturday that includes prize draws, and special sales from 1 to 4 p.m. at the 2188 Oak Bay Ave. store. “It’s a birthday party so you have to have cake,” Scott added with a smile.