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Hometown Proud: Hunter Street Books
Wild Rock has been committed to Peterborough’s downtown core for almost 30 years. Over these years we have had pressure and opportunity to move out of the downtown, but we believe strongly in the need for a community to have a healthy core, a heart. As people who live and work downtown, we are all invested in the success of the individuals and businesses who make their home here.
Hometown Proud is our way to highlight some of our very favourite and up and coming downtown businesses. These are the places that the Wild Rock team supports daily, the places that we are excited about and the places that we are proud to share our home with. Watch for this series on The Journal each month!
HUNTER STREET BOOKS – KIERAN’S BOOK SHOP OF CHOICE
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Hunter Street Books' physical location is now closed. You can still order books on their website for delivery within Peterborough, or pick-up at META4 Gallery on Hunter Street. Check the bookstore's website for updates.
Hunter Street Books is a traditional bookshop selling only new books, which is easier said than done. In our modern world we have come to accept bookshops that seem to carry every title imaginable without concern for the quality of the selection. A breath of fresh air for avid readers, Michelle and her small team at Hunter Street Books curate a fantastic selection of culturally relevant books across many genres. This is the kind of shop where one walks in the door and can pick up pretty much any title with the confidence that it will be a great read because every book is personally chosen and deserves a place on the shelves.
One of the things I like most about this shop is the Staff Picks, where Michelle and her team feature their favourite books. Trust me, if a book makes it onto the Staff Picks list at Hunter Street Books then it is worth reading!
5 QUESTIONS FOR MICHELLE:
What was the thing that surprised you most about the Peterborough community when you opened your shop?
“What surprised me the most was the support and quick acceptance of the way I financially, and emotionally, needed to run my store. It’s hard to understand that my store is different from your regular bookstore - we don’t carry 100’s of copies of one book, for example. We decided not to have many public events. We are small and contained and, like you say above, curated.
I personally decide on every book that goes in the store - I pick from industry and colleague recommendations, from my own choices, from Peterborough customers’ choices, etc.. But what was so surprising was that Peterborough people (and also visitors from elsewhere) quickly caught on and appreciated this. I have so many regular customers who trust my taste (and I trust theirs) and love my store. So, the short of it is - What surprised me most was the support of the community. Three and a half years now and they are still supporting me!”
Now you are both a businessperson and an author, how are you balancing these two very different ways of making a living?
“Good question - when I first started the store I was teaching three classes online at the University of Toronto. Something I had been doing for years. With that and the store I wasn’t writing much at all. Then I dropped teaching thinking I’d do more writing and I still wasn’t doing much writing. I find it easy to edit my work in the store - I can pick up and let go of thoughts when people come in - but actually writing, when people are coming in, is near impossible. That being said - I do have a new book coming out spring, 2021.
It’s a book I wrote years ago that I’ve been able to edit on weekends and Fridays when I’m not in the store. The store has been more successful than I hoped for - which is incredible. But I do need to carve out more time to write.”
If you could ask for a change in Peterborough’s downtown core what would it be?
“I wish that more people truly understood about the importance of independent business - how it works, who we are, why everybody wins when customers support us. Greater support is needed for small businesses who give back to the community, who pay taxes and who hire our Peterborough people, who then pay taxes as well. And these taxes go directly into our system. Supporting the big box stores doesn’t support the people of Peterborough. The money needs to stay in our system so that we can have good health care, clean and safe parks, good roads and sidewalks and garbage pick-up, etc.
It would be so nice if more people understood that although the downtown may look different than the mall it is as safe as anywhere else. It would be easier for shop-owners if the downtown looked better cared for and livelier, creating a busier, friendlier feeling place. With all the passion that business people pour into our community I so wish that improvements would happen faster. There are so many good ideas for the downtown but nothing seems to happen quickly. And being so busy in retail I tend not to have any time to help out - but I’m supporting as much as I can from the sidelines and I fully appreciate the people who are doing everything they can to make Peterborough’s downtown better.”
Your favourite restaurant?
“Impossible to choose! That’s the best thing about downtown - we have so many good restaurants. La Hacienda, Gerti’s, Night Kitchen, St. Veronus, Ashburnham Ale House, Sam’s Deli, Publican House, Hot Belly Mama’s, I could just list every restaurant in Peterborough.”
What would you like Wild Rock’s customers to know about Hunter Street Books?
“We would like people to know that although we might be small we are strong and knowledgeable. We can work to get you a particular book and we can help you find just what you need. Online (www.hunterstreetbooks.com) or instore!”
KIERAN’S PICK OF BOOKS TO READ NEXT:
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
“The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world can illuminate our own human existence, while providing an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.”
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
“Provocative, startling, prophetic, and with Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit, and acute perceptive powers in full force, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once a mordant satire and a dire warning.”
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
“Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.”
Visit Hunter Street Books at:
164 Hunter Street West