By Sue Graci
ROBYN York and Anthony Randall opened Beach Reads Bookshop at 230 St. George Street, near Market Street West. It is a book lover’s paradise that caters to anyone who loves to read.
Born in Port Dover, Anthony attended York University and the Ontario College of Art. He met Robyn in 2014 and they started a family, finding that small town life suited them both. After living in Renton, they realized that “We missed the walkable lifestyle in town,” Anthony said.
Taking possession of the building in September, the store took approximately ten weeks to complete and was open for the busy Christmasfest weekend.
Robyn was quick to acknowledge “Venture Norfolk, who provided business plan feedback, mentorship, and all kinds of support since this idea was born in January 2020!”
Anthony explains “we offer something for everyone. From just-released fiction and non-fiction, a variety of genres, lots of kids and young adult books, including Manga and graphic novels. We also have used books, bargain books, twoonie books, 99 cent used children’s books, local authors, etc.”
The shop also features “things that book lovers would like” such as reading lights, notebooks, journals, pens as well as puzzles – mostly related to literature or with a great design sense.
“We really want to be inclusive of a broad range of interests and proudly support a diversity of authors (Indigenous, LGBTQ+, local authors, etc.). We want anyone to feel comfortable in the shop and find something that speaks to them.”
Bright and welcoming, it is a space that is calm and encourages browsing.
“We wanted a place that people felt comfortable staying a while and finding something they didn’t intend on finding. The type of browsing, conversation and human
interaction that you can’t get online,” said Robyn.
Eye catching displays draw the customer around the store, the desk is part of an old boat, and a mouse hole complete with a tiny toy mouse all lend a charming atmosphere.
The owners do not just run the store, they know the store and can offer excellent suggestions. They can also order books not stocked.
This is a curated collection of “popular new titles, independent voices, as well as lots of old favourites,” according to their website, www.beachreads.ca.
When asked if there were any surprises getting the store open, Anthony said “you can get things done when your business partner (and wife – she’s the CEO and CFO, and I’m in charge of operations as the COO) is on the same page as you. Robyn and I shared a vision for this place.”
“I’m not sure if our family was totally on board at first, but I think they are now. I think that’s when things work out for the best, when you have a vision for something and someone else sees the same thing, and you make it happen. We still kind of pinch ourselves that we actually have this building and this book shop, with a mid-century modern style, in walking distance to everything in town,” Anthony said.
Robyn is a graphic designer and new to Port Dover. She “was a big reader, and due to an eye surgery at a young age, I had to have monthly eye doctor appointments, which I looked forward to because I would get to buy a new Babysitter’s Club book every month.”
“Port Dover is a great fit for our family, we love after supper walks on the beach to collect sea glass (and eat ice cream) and are excited to learn more about our town through favourite books and local history,” Robyn said.
After studying Fine Art Photography in Ottawa, she started “little handmade books as a way to share my photos with others. I have been publishing artist books as Anchorless Press since 2011. I attended Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY, to study with Nathan and Joan Lyons, an artist couple who founded one of the first MFA programs in the USA and grew one of the largest independent press collections of artist published books.” She also designs and produces art books as a freelance designer.
If you love to read or are simply curious, pop in – you won’t be disappointed!
Originally published January 18, 2023