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Beloved children's bookstore Woozles moves out of iconic yellow building in Halifax

·2 min read
Woozles opened on Birmingham Street in downtown Halifax in 1978.  (CBC - image credit)
Woozles opened on Birmingham Street in downtown Halifax in 1978. (CBC - image credit)

Canada's oldest children's bookstore is saying goodbye to its iconic yellow building off Spring Garden Road in Halifax after 43 years — but the story of Woozles is far from finished.

The bookstore's location on Birmingham Street officially closed Monday afternoon as staff prepare to move to a brand new building on Shirley Street in the city's West End.

"Our cute little yellow building with the green door is actually an old building, and it was taking more and more time and attention for us," owner Liz Crocker told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Monday.

There came a time when she had to ask herself, "Do we save this building, or do we save ourselves?"

Add parking, construction and accessibility issues to the list, and Crocker said it felt like the right time to start the next chapter.

"We ... were struck with a need to improve accessibility for our customers," Crocker said. "Not just accessibility for people who are challenged in ambulation or parents with strollers, but just even getting to us is getting harder and harder in the downtown core."

The new location, which isn't far from Robie Street, will have an accessible door and bathroom and a lot more on-street parking, she said.

Opened on Birmingham in 1978

Crocker founded Woozles in 1978 with her late husband, Brian Crocker, and friend Anne Connor Brimer. Their mission was to create a community space where kids could feel at home to discover the joys of reading.

"People would wander in who were new to the city and say, 'Where do I find a daycare centre?' We wanted to be that kind of a place, really a community place in addition to being a store," Crocker said.

Four decades later, Woozles is still welcoming generations of families through its doors and inviting them to curl up with a good book in the comfy old chair in the corner. (Don't worry, the comfy old chair is moving to Shirley Street, too.)

Crocker said over the years, staff weren't afraid to try new things, such as hosting workshops for kids and adults or starting a program called the Battle of the Books in 1986 where young readers could test their knowledge of literature.

For many years, Woozles also hosted writing competitions and in 2019, in honour of its 40th anniversary, the store published books by two young writers.

After the stress of the pandemic and the aging building, Crocker said she's looking forward to getting back to what's most important.

"We're ready to just be a children's bookstore, having fun with kids, and adults who love kids," she said.

Crocker expects the new store on Shirley Street to open sometime in November.

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