The A-Frame Bookstore, located in the hall of the St. John Gualbert Church also known as the “A-Frame Church”, is tucked away at the corner of Cedar & Haddington in Port McNeill.
In 1999, the church opened the bookstore with “a few shelves, an old cash register and mountains of unsorted books all donated by Community Futures,” said Bookstore Volunteer, Karen Stewart.
The focus of the bookstore is “to encourage literacy – locally, regionally and even internationally,” said Stewart, adding that for quite a few years “the bookstore exchanged books with Literacy Nanaimo. Some of our books ended up in Seniors Centres, women’s shelters and prisons. We’ve provided books to Kingcome Village, the Sunset Elementary School book exchange, public health’s Born to Read program, and have been involved with the Port McNeill Rotary Clubs sending books to Africa.”
The bookstore is run completely by volunteers and is open Monday evening and Tuesday to Saturday afternoons. “If the sandwich board is on the lawn the bookstore is open,” said Stewart. “All the books are donated so we’re able to keep the price very low.”
Prices range from $1 for children’s books to $2 for adult’s books. The store is organized into sections such as regular fiction, science-fiction, and also non-fiction including military, self-help, biographies, cookbooks, gardening, parenting etc.
“It’s amazing what a good selection of books we’ve got, so don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re looking for Shakespeare, we’ve got Shakespeare,” said Stewart.
In the past, the A-Frame Bookstore had high school students fulfilling their Career Planning volunteer working at the bookstore and they also received funds through a federal HRDC program called Canada Summer Jobs. That funding allowed them to offer local teens full-time summer employment learning about customer service and running a small business.
The bookstore has hosted numerous book readings, a writing workshop, and each December for the past three years held an event called “It’s a Wrap”, welcoming North Islanders to bring their Christmas gifts in to have them wrapped by donation.
“The A-Frame Bookstore is not just about books, it’s constantly evolving,” said Stewart, adding that their success is “dependent on our phenomenal team of volunteers who take the time to receive, sort and shelve books, offer assistance to find the perfect book, provide information about our church and the community, share a smile, a hug, or a cup of coffee.”
Book donations are always gratefully accepted, but they can’t accept magazines, textbooks, or encyclopedias, as there just “isn’t a demand,” said Stewart. “And please, no damaged, dirty or smelly books.”