Greenwoods’ Bookshoppe in my hometown of Edmonton has closed. Greenwoods’ was a refuge for me. I’d go inside while waiting for the bus, in the early 1980’s, and browse. Browse means to feed on buds, and shoots, and I browsed my way through the shelves, discovering books on keeping a journal, the poems of Alice Walker, as well as having my copy of Not Wanted on the Voyage (a re-imagining of Noah’s Ark, narrated by a cat named Mottyl) signed by Timothy Findley. Greenwoods’ was a welcoming place for authors, and for readers. My copy of Good Night Willie Lee, I’ll See you in the Morning, by Alice Walker, still has the Greenwoods’ sticker on the back, $6.95, and one of the first books I remember buying at Greenwoods’.
Greenwoods’ Bookshoppe was founded in 1979 by siblings Brad, Gail and Laurie Greenwood. They moved into the newly renovated Tipton Block building on Whyte Avenue in the Strathcona section of Edmonton, AB. Whyte Avenue was also a refuge for me when I was in high school, with the bookstore, cafes, and the Princess Repertory Theatre. It was a part of Edmonton built to walking scale, and I felt independent taking the bus there and then having a whole world open up to me as I walked.
I discovered that since I left Edmonton in 1985, Greenwoods’ moved to another location in 2001, and then back to Whyte Avenue just a little while ago, and sadly, Brad Greenwood died in his office at the Bookshoppe at age 57 just a few months later, and then Gail announced the closure. I remember reading a line in a book in Greenwoods’ about information being the new wealth, that it will be the new currency. That line stayed with me, and perhaps was part of why I became a librarian. Many of the bookstores I have known and loved are gone. Ironically, browse is related to the term web browsers, and most of our browsing now happens online. There are two bookstores in my area that I can still visit, and I am grateful to find their refuge. Both are relatively small, but that doesn’t preclude serendipity and discovery, as the personality of their owners is expressed in book choices.
What bookstores have you known?