TORONTO — Before you stroll inside Another Story Bookshop, you will note a poster that includes the John Lennon lyric “A Working Class Hero Is Something to Be” within the window. During a go to within the spring, the books on show included “Policing Indigenous Movements” and “Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights.”
The tenet of the bookstore, situated in Toronto’s Roncesvalles Village neighborhood, is social justice, and it makes itself recognized immediately. That was a aim of its founder, Sheila Koffman, who opened Another Story in 1987 in an effort to position, as she put it, “diverse books into diverse hands.”
“She wanted to give a platform for those voices,” stated Eric McCall, a longtime worker, “to really champion new authors that were people of color and queer authors.”
The retailer was initially situated within the basement of a constructing in Bloor and Broadview, and staff bear in mind Koffman, who died of most cancers two years in the past, serving to clients with kids carry their strollers up and down the steps.
Her brother, Joel Koffman, now owns the shop with McCall and one other worker, Laura Ash. Together with Anjula Gogia, who serves because the occasions coordinator, the 4 of them see themselves as persevering with her legacy.
“‘Ownership’ doesn’t mean much to us, but the responsibility and workload does,” McCall stated. “The work never really stops, so it just feels like a continuation of what our jobs were before in a lot of ways.”
Children’s books are a significant draw, and half of the shop is dedicated to them. It additionally operates a wholesale enterprise, supplying kids’s titles to colleges and libraries.
For adults, there’s a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, with a concentrate on Canadian authors, who symbolize about two-thirds of the choice. The house owners additionally search for writers of colour, queer authors and indigenous writers. “We don’t really worry about best sellers. That can be acquired elsewhere. We really want to promote those marginalized voices,” McCall stated.
Readings and different bookstore occasions sometimes start with “land acknowledgment,” identifying the indigenous people who lived there first. In Another Story’s case, that includes the nations of Huron-Wendat, Petun, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The Porcupine Warriors, a local indigenous collective, held a teach-in in January at the store to raise money for the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, whose members have fought the TransCanada pipeline expansion.
Because the owners also own the building, that has helped keep Another Story afloat amid Toronto’s increasingly expensive real-estate market. Sales and profits have grown steadily, Ash said, and all eight full-time and five part-time workers earn at least 15 Canadian dollars an hour (about $11.38), reflecting the store’s support for the “15andFairness” campaign to raise the national minimum wage to that rate.
That the bookstore has held onto its roots would have made its founder happy, McCall said.
“I still notice every time when a customer comes in who’s clearly never been here before. They look around for a minute and say out loud to whoever they are with, ‘Oh, it’s a lefty bookstore,’” McCall said. “Sheila would have liked that. We must be doing something right if people are still saying that.”