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Local independent bookstore moves to Richmond Row

Credit: THOMAS JAMES SAYERS

Storeowner Vanessa Brown and her collection of local literature feel right at home at Brown and Dickson's new location.


Thomas James Sayers | Interrobang | News | September 19th, 2016




Local storeowner Vanessa Brown stands amongst the stacks of books in the new location of independent book retailer Brown & Dickson. Brown and her business partner Jason Dickson moved into their Richmond Row shop Sept. 3 and the community response has been positive.

The store, located at 609 Richmond Street, features a different selection than mainstream bookstores. “We have a lot of local history and London artists. Right now we’re the exclusive retailers for James Kirkpatrick’s new art book, Secret Base by the Lake, and that was put out by McIntosh Gallery. We really do like supporting local arts and culture,” Brown said.

While the store focuses on local content, they also specialize in counter-culture, art, photography and interesting non-fiction or literature. “We don’t want boring books, so we don’t carry those,” Brown said.

The new location is happily cozy with its large collection of books. The books are all unique, and it feels as if Brown could speak at length about any of the books in the store. Brown describes the store as curated, though knows some despise the word for the trendy connotation that accompanies it.

“The truth is that it is curated, and that is one of the great things about having a local bookseller. You know the kind of books they’re going to carry and you trust their opinion. They’re not going to recommend something to you just because it’s their job.”

Love of the job is something prevalent at the store. Brown and Dickson attended the same high school and are both freelance writers.

“We actually met through a local poetry anthology.” The couple opened their bookstore one year ago in UnLondon’s 121 Studios, a maker space and retail location that operates out of the previous Novack’s building.

Brown is confident that the new location will draw in more customers and allow a larger space for their existing clientele. The store purchases books and acts as a middle- man for customers, much like a consignment shop acts for clothing.

The nature of the store and its selection appeals to anyone with genuine curiosity.

“Rather than a demographic of gender and age, it’s more a demographic of interest. I’d say the phrase that most encapsulates what we do is targeting an audience of culturally engaged people. So people who are interested in learning outside of the school environment and want to dig for the interesting stuff.”

Although some would question the decision to upsize a brick-andmortar book retailer when e-readers are posing a threat to industry, Brown knows bookstores still play an important role in the community.

“There have been scares in the book industry since there has been a book industry. But if you look at a bookstore, every book is an adventure or a conversation and they’re all these objects on a shelf and you get to pick each one up and hold it, and look at it. The intimacy of seeing the printed word with your own eye is there. You can look for books online, but you can’t really flip through it.”

And with the daunting number of books being released each year, it’s nice to know someone else is there to recommend something.

“We don’t carry books we don’t stand behind,” she said.

The store adds to the growing number of alternative, independently- owned retailers in London as well as the burgeoning arts community emerging in London’s core. Any Londoners seeking cultural enlightenment (or even just a good book) should feel free to pop into the store.

“It isn’t about students, or hipsters, or whatever else, it’s just about people who want to learn.”

Brown & Dickson is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
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