Francis Davis opened the Christian Book and Music on the corner of Douglas and View streets back in 1939 – the day Canada declared war, according to the latest owner.
“It’s more than a bookstore,” said Mike Easton, owner of the shop now on Nanaimo Street, that marked 80 years in business on Sept. 10.
Easton grew up working at the store as his parents bought it from the Hamilton family in 1975 when he was 11. When his parents semi-retired, he took over – although they still make deliveries as far north as Nanaimo every Wednesday. Easton’s wife and self-proclaimed book fanatic, Melanie, worked in the store as a teen before becoming a teacher and she has since returned to work at the bookstore.
Easton has seen many changes over the years as the store has moved seven times, a Nanaimo location opened and a Duncan location closed. He and Melanie are hopeful the current Victoria location on Nanaimo Street will be the last as the move was tough.
Now, the store has a cafe, a music section, a kids’ corner, a used book nook, gift wrapping, a prayer team and warehouse space that several groups use for worship. He refers to the store as a focal point in the local Christian community and for folks across Canada. With the addition of a website, the Easton’s have been able to reach customers in northern B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.
When the Catholic bookstore downtown closed, Easton made it his mission to carry products for the local Catholic community too.
The store serves as a gathering place for residents of all ages and all faiths, Easton explained. He noted that being a part of someone’s “pilgrimage to faith” is a special thing.
Easton’s children have chosen not to run the bookstore after he retires and eventually he will need to sell the store. He’s hopeful that a new owner would share the same vision and he’s excited to see what the next 80 years will look like.
The store’s 80th anniversary will be celebrated with a sale that runs from Sept. 19 to Oct. 14 and Easton is hoping to also have a little party with cake in mid-October.