On Oct. 19, Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax celebrated its 35th anniversary. Co-owner Liz Crocker ““ who opened Woozles in 1978 with Ann Connor Brimer and Brian Crocker ““ spoke to Q&Q about the birthday festivities, as well as the shop’s enduring success.
How did the anniversary celebration go? The day couldn’t have been better in terms of weather. We had hundreds of people attend. Children got their faces painted, Paddington Bear visited, and author Sheree Fitch delighted everyone in accepting the Woozles Appreciation Award. She said that she values Woozles because it’s a place that represents a positive community feeling in Halifax, which offers the possibility of joy and discovery through the magic of books. Then she dazzled with an enchanting rendition of her book Mabel Murple.
Why do you think the store has lasted for so long? People have responded to our passion for what we do and the deep knowledge of the staff. Also, the activities we offer ““ like our workshops, contests, book clubs, and Battle of the Books”“ make Woozles more than just a store. Being in the downtown core has also helped in that we are part of the urban community.
What have been the big changes in selling kids’ books over the years? We have seen a huge growth in the number of exceptional Canadian children’s authors and books, and an explosion in the variety of ways and places one can obtain books. But some things haven’t changed, like the depth of our backlist and how often people still look for their old favourites, such as Good Night Moon, Where’s Spot?, Charlotte’s Web, and The Velveteen Rabbit.
What are the challenges and benefits of working in the Canadian kids’ publishing industry? It is difficult to know that some places sell books for so much less than we do, because they have such huge buying power. It’s also sometimes troubling to see children being consumed by technology and not having the time or opportunity to discover books. But the challenges are small compared to the delight we have daily as we watch children and adults discover what a good book can do, and what having a place that is for and about children feels like.
This interview has been edited and condensed.