Melissa Garrett grew up reading Sheree Fitch's books and planned a visit to Nova Scotia to see the author's new bookstore.
The New Brunswick teacher was one of hundreds of people who gathered in River John, N.S., for the official opening of Mabel Murple's Book Shoppe and Dreamery on Monday.
"I have one of the original Toes in My Nose, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on Polly MacCauley," Garrett said as her son sat nearby, starting chapter two of his newest novel. "We won't be able to talk to him again till the book is over."
'Not just a book shop'
That enthusiasm for reading is something Fitch hopes to foster on her property.
"It's not just a book shop. It's come in, tell stories. What's your story? Do you have a story you want to tell to your family," she said.
"The dreamery is a place to dream in and be inspired by, which is also what books do."
She fondly remembers when her parents took her to the Green Gables house in Cavendish, P.E.I., after reading the Anne series.
"It changed my life. I was that little girl who was very sensitive and loved my books and they took me there and it was a memory that was made in my family," said Fitch.
Labour of love
Fitch's husband, Gilles Plante, converted a century-old granary into the store. Nearby, another building is a replica of Mabel Murple's purple home.
On Monday, families were already lining up to discover new stories before the shop officially opened.
It offers a variety of works from authors from across the region, not just children's books.
The shop will be seasonal, but Fitch hopes to host school field trips and writers' retreats. As much as it's a labour of love, Fitch said she will need to make money to keep going.
"I will hand sell as many Atlantic Canadian books as I can for the next five years and I hope to do that for the tourists who maybe aren't familiar with our stories, our legends and our culture," Fitch said.
"As a poet you don't always learn about business, so I've had a huge learning curve. Our idea is that in three years if we can break even, that's a wonderful thing."