1. It’s in Victoria
2. It’s 52 years old. That means Munro’s has survived Amazon, consolidation and e-books.
3. Carole Sabiston’s tapestries. Eight large banners depict the seasons and decorate the interior of Munro’s. Carole is an incredibly accomplished textile artist. Her commissions include the giant Sunburst for the Expo ’86 opening ceremony in Vancouver and the five-panel work of mountains and oceans at Government House.
4. Its connection to Alice Munro. Nobel prize winner and one of my literary heroes co-founded the original Munro’s Books in 1964.
5. Jim Munro. Not only does Jim have great taste in wives (Alice Munro and Carole Sabiston), when he retired in 2014 he handed over the store and inventory to four long-time staffers (they pay him rent).
6. The Staff. They understand books, customers and needy authors and are amazingly knowledgeable. They also stage events, book launches and readings.
7. The Books. There are roughly 30,000 in the inventory and a huge children’s section. Just try to leave without buying several books, it’s physically impossible.
8. Local Interest Section. It’s huge, it’s right up the front, and it’s all about B.C. authors.
9. Jim Munro. Not only does he love books, he also loves heritage buildings. He and Carole still live in the 1894 Rockland Avenue house that he bought with Alice in 1966. He bought the former bank building that houses Munro’s in 1984 and restored it. Now it’s a tourist attraction.
10. The building. Originally designed for the Royal Bank of Canada in 1909, it’s a gorgeous neo-classical building with marble and hardwood floors and sweeping 24-foot-high ceilings. It was designed by architect Thomas Hooper who also designed the Roger’s Building, Hycroft (Shaughnessy) and Christina Haas’s Cook Street brothel.
For more about Munro’s Books, Jim Munro, Carole Sabiston, Alice Munro and Victoria grab a copy of Sensational Victoria: bright lights, red lights, murders, ghosts and gardens.
Bookstores all over Canada are hosting Authors for Indies tomorrow. For a full listing of participating stores in B.C. see Authors for Indies