Thunder Bay’s newest (and only) independent bookstore, Entershine, is now open for business. Understandably, the first question a visitor might have is, what is “Entershine?”
“It’s an old word,” co-owner David Tranter answers as he rings up another sale during the book shop’s “soft opening” in July. “It’s the dappled light shining through leaves of trees. Or maybe it’s not a word, but it did show up in literature a couple of hundred years ago.”
Whatever its origins, the name Entershine, on a carved wooden sign above the doorway, announces the arrival of Thunder Bay’s first independent bookshop since the closure of Northern Woman’s Bookstore in 2016.
“It’s the combination of opportunity, an ideal location, and our desire to do something meaningful for the city,” Tranter says.
“There’s a real trend in North America right now, a return to independent bookstores,” co-owner Lynne Warnick chimes in during a zoom interview. “We want to give back to the community, even though it’s a frightening thing for all of us to be involved in,” she smiles.
Among the four co-owners is close to half a century of collective experience in the retail book trade. Warnick brings a wealth of experience in Canadian libraries and bookstores in the UK, while her colleague Jennifer Wreszczak-McKenzie contributes her management experience at Chapters/Indigo and experience in the Lakehead University bookstore. Lori Carson has 22 years as an educator—in addition to being the shop’s finance person, she will be in charge of the children’s section.
“I have a huge fondness for children’s books,” Carson says. “They were a great source of comfort in my relationship with my daughter.”
As the former spa space was renovated, and inventories built up in anticipation of the opening, the Entershine co-owners knew that they would need every bit of their experience and savvy.
“It can be a romantic notion, but it’s a lot of work running an old-time bookshop,” says Tranter.
With the technological communications revolutions in recent years, bookstores have had to scramble to find ways to survive. One strategy is to include coffee shops on their premises. Not so, Entershine.
“Our goal is to compliment, not compete,” says Carson, pausing between customers. “We won’t offer a food service since we’re right by The Bean Fiend and other establishments right near us. We take care of the books; they take care of the food.”
“We’re open to any and all partnerships,” says Warnick.
The entrepreneurs are also open to trends and customer needs:
“From early on, one of our priorities is a large Indigenous section,” Warnick says.
“And best sellers, and quirky, not all predictable stuff,” Tranter grins.
Though books will comprise the main strength of Entershine’s inventory, the entrepreneurs have kept an eye on people’s behaviours on social media. The enterprise already has a Facebook and Instagram presence, as well as a webpage (see below).
“We’ll have the latest online access in the store,” says Tranter. “We want to meet customer expectations which are quite rightly, high. We’re small, so we can be really nimble.”
Entershine’s agility means that tables will be on wheels, for easy moving to accommodate readings and other community events. Shelving is specially placed so as not to interfere with attendees’ lines of sight. While the compact premises can host a gathering of up to 30 people, Warnick explains that Entershine might well sponsor gatherings in larger venues, as it makes sense to do so.
Being a local enterprise means also that Entershine will showcase local artistic and artisanal creations in the store’s space. The works of local writers will also feature prominently.
“I’ve already talked to a few local authors,” says Warnick, whose responsibility includes book ordering. “Their works will be front and centre in the store—we want them to be very visible to customers.”
The sense of excitement and of giving back to the local community pops up repeatedly throughout the conversation with Entershine’s co-owners. Despite the understandable trepidation about managing a complex enterprise in today’s pandemic-impacted retail environment, there is a sense of sturdy, resilient hope among the group. Perhaps Lynne Warnick says it best, “We’re small but mighty!”
To learn more, find Entershine Book Shop on Facebook or visit: entershinebookshop.ca.