July 01, 2009

Literary treasures at fantastic prices

As published in The Erin Advocate

The Bookends store in Erin is one of those treasures that keeps on being discovered – by people who didn't know it was there.

In an era when it seems almost everything can be found on one website or another, it turns out that people still want to hold a real book in their hands, open it when they please, be guided by the skill of an author and be entertained at their own pace.

This process does not require brand new books, and so we share our used ones. As a fundraising venture operated by East Wellington Community Services (EWCS), Bookends accepts donations of books and CDs, and sells them for a small profit.

"The money stays in the community to fund programs," said Robyn Pyrczak, Retail Coordinator and Event Planner at EWCS. Bookends contributes about $20,000 per year to the organization's revenue.

This Saturday, June 27, EWCS (known as EWAG until recently) is celebrating its 25th anniversary by offering a free breakfast to anyone who drops in to the Seniors Centre at Centre 2000, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Powered by volunteers and supported by fundraising efforts throughout the community, by local businesses and service clubs, and by all levels of government, EWCS operates programs for children and seniors, an information centre, a food bank and three thrift clothing stores. They serve Erin, Hillsburgh, Rockwood, Orton and Guelph-Eramosa Township.

For more information or to find out about volunteering, call 519-833-9696, or go to www.eastwellingtoncommunityservices.com

The Bookends store is located in the EWCS building at 45 Main Street, at the corner of Millwood Road, between the LCBO and Mundell's. The main entrance is on the side, towards the back, but recently a passageway was opened up inside, allowing people to walk between the book store and the New to You thrift clothing store and EWSC offices at the front of the building.

"This has made a huge difference," said Pyrczak. "Some people thought it was a separate entity. We have had good feedback and increased sales."

The store is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, operated by a team of 24 volunteers on three-hour shifts, coordinated by Enid Acton and Charles Lewis.

Although the store has been around for many years, some local residents are still surprised to discover it – a useful service they had overlooked. There are signs, but the store does not have a high profile as you drive down Main Street.

It was opened in December 1985, with Gillian Cantrell as its first coordinator. She was assisted by her husband David, Fran Hoag and Joanne Page. It was originally in the small, green shed behind the building, donated for use by Bob McEnery.

Bookends is very well organized, like a mini-library, and it is not too crowded. The fiction sections have useful names like "War/Spy/Adventure", "Horror" and "Christian Novels". Non-fiction areas like Health have subsections such as "Stress", "Cancer" and "Pregnancy".

The books are in good condition, with many paperbacks selling for 50 cents or less, ranging up to fancy coffee-table books for $6. There are also vintage books. Most donations are welcome, but they do not accept magazines (including Reader's Digest) or VHS tapes.

Their CD collection is very small and could use a boost. With many people transferring music collections to their computers, the number of redundant CDs in the community must be huge. Used CDs are a great way to build up your collection at very low cost, and once you've got the songs you want, you can donate the CD back to the store for someone else's benefit.