“If it’s in stock, we either read it and loved it or we want to read it. We have a 600 square foot ‘to read’ pile.”
Georgian Bay Books in Midland, ON is the quintessential “small-but-mighty” local bookshop. Since 2016, these booksellers have been delighting local and visiting readers alike with pitch-perfect recommendations and a curated selection for all kinds of readers. We spoke to co-owners Sandy Dunsford and Sarah Kenney about their unique store and why they love the bookselling business.
You celebrated five years in operation in late 2021. Congratulations! How did Georgian Bay Books come to be? Can you tell us a bit about the history of your store?
In late 2015 we found ourselves let go from our local bookstore chain due to mall redevelopment. We decided we weren’t fit for any other kind of work and set about finding a spot for our own bookstore downtown. Combined, we have a total 30 years experience selling books. Midland is a town of avid readers so we were sure we could make a go of it.
How do you curate your collection and utilize the space you have?
If it’s in stock, we either read it and loved it or we want to read it. We have a 600 square foot “to read” pile. Most of our sales are fun fiction and local interest – especially in the summer – and we sell a large amount of kids' fiction for a range of ages. We also do special orders for our customers which helps us curate our collection to their tastes.
What is something our readers might be surprised to learn about Georgian Bay Books?
How long we’ve been open. People are always surprised to find out how long we’ve been here on the main street.Your store is an important part of the local culture. What role does your bookstore play in the community? How have Midland residents supported you over the years?
Midland is a very supportive community. Everyone loves to shop local! We are very much a gathering place for book lovers. People will often overhear a conversation in the store and recommend to strangers what they love to read. We have also been involved in many events with the library and the cultural centre.
Reviews online celebrate your outstanding customer service – particularly your tailored book recommendations. Why is this so important to you?
We love helping people find their next favourite read. If you can tell us a few titles that you loved, we can find something new for you! It’s important to engage with our customers and make sure we know what they love and what books they will enjoy, even if they fall outside of their comfort zone. We enjoy being a part of their lives in that way.
Can you share some of the recent or upcoming releases you’re most excited about?
What do you love most about being independent booksellers?
The ability to order our own books instead of just selling what corporate is pushing. We recently added a Manga section because we had so many requests from customers. It’s nice to be in touch with the local area and know what they want.