British Columbia

Page-turning turnover: Huge demand spurs Victoria book store to move to larger location

In a world of tablets and smartphones, it's hard to imagine a book store doing so well it needs to relocate to a larger venue. But that's what's happening at Russell Books in downtown Victoria, where demand has prompted a move to bigger digs across Fort Street.

Russell Books bucks digital trend as it prepares to move thousands of books to bigger digs downtown

Victoria's Russell Books is doing so well, the store needs a bigger space to house the thousands it has stacked from floor to ceiling. (Russell Books)

In a world of tablets and smartphones, it's hard to imagine a book store doing so well it needs to be relocated to a larger venue.

But that's what's happening at Russell Books in downtown Victoria, where demand has prompted a move to bigger digs across Fort Street.

The new location will increase the store's floorspace by about a third, and will greatly improve accessibility thanks to an escalator and elevator.

Now, co-owner Andrea Minter and her staff are in the process of moving three floors of books — most of them stacked from hardwood to ceiling — to their new home.

"You can never replace a book," says Minter, describing their appeal as she packs up another box of heavy tomes.

"People enjoy picking up a book. The feel of it, the smell of it."

Minter, who owns and operates Russell Books with her husband and her brother, says much of the store's success is thanks to its strong local customer base and its recognition as a tourism hotspot.

'We specialize in everything,' says co-owner Andrea Minter about the selection at Russell Books. (Andrea Minter)

"It helps selling a product you believe in, as well," added Minter. "We take great pride in having a large collection of everything. We specialize in everything."

Having a large selection of books available for sale is something Minter's family has taken seriously for generations. In the early 1960s her grandfather, Reginald Russell, opened the first Russell Books in Montreal.

Reginald Russell was a banker with a love for reading who collected many books. He decided to sell his collection to the public and ran the shop with his mother. Decades later, he convinced his daughter, Diana Depol, to open a second Victoria location in 1991.

Depol and her husband ran the Victoria store for many years before handing the business over to Minter, their daughter.

Now another chapter of Russell's history is about to begin with the move to larger digs.

As she helps pack up thousands of books, Minter is glad the move is just across the street.

"Books are heavy," she said, smiling.

With files from All Points West

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