On a crisp December afternoon, Yukari Peerless packed up her two kids and headed to the bookstore – to get married.
None of the romance between Peerless and Mark Davidson has been conventional, from the moment the social media-savvy couple connected via Tweetup, to Davidson’s initial Facebook friend request, to their first face-to-face meeting during last year’s BlogWorld conference in Los Angeles. It seems fitting then, that Peerless and Davidson would exchange vows in a rather alternative venue – one that’s also home to a non-profit agency aimed at inspiring children to write their own impassioned stories.
On Dec. 7, Davidson, an online communications strategist from Los Angeles and Peerless, an ESL agent and entrepreneur based in Victoria, held hands in the window of Tall Tales Books on Cadboro Bay Road, and before a handful of friends, became husband and wife.
Of the 83 marriages commissioner Cathy Lavoie has performed, this was the first she conducted in a bookstore.
“When you think about getting married, you want it to be a positive experience,” Davidson said. “You want it to be full of positive feelings and attachments. There’s always been a good vibe there. It just made sense.”
Tall Tales was one of the first Victoria locales Davidson experienced with Peerless and her young son while visiting the city.
“It was a no-brainer,” Peerless agreed. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
While the ceremony took place, store co-owner Drew Lormier stood behind the counter and greeted a customer, business as usual.
“It’s very unique,” said Lormier, who owns Tall Tales with wife Kate. “We’re very flattered. It reaffirms what we are trying to do with our store – to make it a place where families want to come.”
Much of the atmosphere of Tall Tales is a result of the group with which they now share the storefront. Non-profit organization, The Story Studio Writing Society, which offers writing workshops to kids both in the shared studio and in schools, has been based in the space since January, 2012.
Earlier in the week, a group of much smaller people filled the seats where the wedding guests sat, flanked by shelves of brightly coloured books. An after-school group of kids gathered to put the finishing touches on their comic books, a series led by local Magic Teeth cartoonist Gareth Gaudin.
“We take the kids through the process in a very tactile, playful way,” said Paisley Aiken, program founder of The Story Studio.
After three sessions, each student of a Studio course goes home with a bound book of their own work.
“They get to experience success as an author,” Aiken added. “It’s about having an experience where they want to enjoy writing, find their creativity and develop it.”
Courses at The Story Studio – featuring authors across genres – are open to anyone, with registration on a donation basis. Over the last year, the society, which has applied for charitable status, has worked with 300 kids, including some in school programming in the Greater Victoria and Sooke school districts, an aspect of the work Aiken would like to see expand.
The Story Studio partnership and the wedding further Tall Tales’ otherwise uncommon reputation.
In the summer of 2011, facing financial troubles, the Lormiers launched Tall Tales’ “hero” program, a subscription service to the store through which customers register to make automatic monthly payments of $10 that can be used month-to-month or held indefinitely to make larger purchases. Within a month of its launch, more than 300 people had registered for the program, many of whom have decided to continue to subscribe today.
“The only reason why we’re still here is because we put out a call with that program,” Lormier said. “It was a way for people to support us that wasn’t a charity.”
When the Lormiers moved their business from their downtown storefront on Fort Street to The Story Studio building in Oak Bay in September, it cut costs and offered more accessibility to those who wouldn’t otherwise have made the trip downtown, Lormier said. He hopes to see the store and studio collaborate on joint literacy events in the future, including an activity-based pre-school book club. But the doors could very well be open to more matrimonial occasions.
“This is the sort of story my grandparents told,” Davidson said of the international romance. “I just knew. As silly as that sounds, as cliché as that sounds, I just knew.”
And while the sentiment of love stories gone by remains for the lovers who met via Twitter, the details are now written in 140 characters or less.