Oldest bookstore in Vancouver struggles to survive


VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Yet another independent book store in Vancouver is struggling financially.

The People’s Co-op Bookstore on Commercial Drive is considered the oldest bookstore in Vancouver, if not all of Canada.

The bookstore was opened back in 1945 and as a co-operative it’s owned by its own customers.

Like other independents, though, it’s competing with big box stores plus online book warehouses.

Treasurer Rolf Maurer says the store has no savings and it can’t go to the banks.

“We’re a co-op, we don’t have assets, and we don’t have owners who can pledge their own private property for as security. So that puts us in a different position in terms of borrowing. It’s really hard for a co-op to borrow,” he points out.

He says at bare minimum the store needs $10,000 to survive, but $30,000 is the goal in order to acquire new books. Three quarters of the books are used, but Maurer says they need the new books, which account for half their sales.

He is happy with the way the community has responded to their plight.

“We are at almost 700 members. We’ve increased our membership by 75 per cent. By saying increasing our membership, I mean people are plunking down $25 but quite often $50, $100, or $250 to become members of the co-op and support the store.”

He looks to Portland’s Powell’s Books as a model bookstore. It’s takes up a whole city block, and Maurer says it’s been innovative in providing both used and new book titles side by side.

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