Terry Westcott's English used bookstore reopens in la Petite-Patrie

The new location for Terry Westcott's used bookstore is cramped, with books stacked on counter tops, chairs and on the floor. But after being forced out of his old space on the Main, Westcott has found a new home in St-Hubert Plaza.

After being pushed out of shop on St-Laurent Blvd., Westcott Books has a new space in St-Hubert Plaza

Terry Westcott has been in the used book business for more than 35 years. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

The new location for Terry Westcott's used bookstore is cramped, with books stacked on counter tops, chairs and on the floor. The empty shelves in the shop far outnumber those with books on them.

Westcott has been in the used book business for more than 35 years, and as long as he is around his books, the 74-year-old is happy.

"Even as a kid, my parents made me do my homework on the dining room table so that they could keep an eye on me," said Westcott.

"If they left me alone in my bedroom to do my schoolwork, I'd be reading Alexandre Dumas or Jules Verne, and I wouldn't get any of my schoolwork done."

But the business of running a bookstore hasn't always been easy.

Westcott was forced out of his last location in Montreal's St-Laurent Boulevard in the trendy Plateau neighbourhood last fall.

Westcott's landlord found a new tenant willing to pay more rent. So he packed hundreds of boxes of books, put them in storage, and started looking for a new place.

The new shop is still a work in progress with books stacked on the floor and on countertops, and many shelves still waiting to be filled. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

About a month ago, he opened up in the St-Hubert Plaza, an outdoor shopping centre that's fallen on hard times, thanks to a tip from a woman in a friend's used bookstore.

"She said 'Terry, you should try up in La Petite-Patrie. There's more and more English people moving up there,'" he said.

"I found this nice location at a very reasonable rent, good landlord, and so here I am."

Setting up in unknown turf

Westcott is breaking new ground with his English-language store in the Plaza. There are two used bookstores and three new bookstores all within a few blocks of his store. All sell French-language books.

Westcott is confident of making a go of it at his new address. When he had his store on Ste-Catherine Street., Westcott said he was the only used bookstore there.

He said he started to worry he would lose sales when more started to move into the area.

"It was quite the opposite, my sales went up," said Westcott. "The more stores you have in a location selling the same merchandise, people tend to come to that area, so the more book shops there are, the better."

Westcott has many rare treasures in his collection. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Westcott knows he will also have the challenge of living through construction to renovate the plaza and replace the sewers.

In the meantime, the bookseller will continue to stock his bare shelves.

Westcott figures he has more than 10,000 books in storage that he has to pull out, dust off and stack on his shelves.

Westcott Books is on the west side of St-Hubert Street, between St-Zotique and Bélanger streets.


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