BUSINESS PROFILE: Totally Book•ish

A conversation with Mission business owners

When Ami came to Mission, she didn’t know she would eventually open Totally Book•ish, the new bookstore in town.

Marrying a local Mission boy, Ami made the move to this community from Abbotsford 19 years ago. She has raised her family here and loves the comfort that a small town provides.

She began writing when she was very young and recently won the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction award for her short fiction piece, Snow. Blood. Love.

This is the story of 15 year old Jessica who, on a yearly trip to visit her grandmother, finds her aunt’s abusive husband shot dead in the snow. Someone in her family has murdered him and we follow Jessica as she helps cover up the crime.

The annual competition is divided into different genres, each awarding a 1st place prize to the winner. One Grand Prize is awarded overall and, in 2017, it was Ami.

The prize involved a trip to New York City and the honour of attending the Writer’s Digest annual conference. A crowning accomplishment.

When Ami arrived back in Mission, she was met with some devastating news. Her favourite local bookstore, Black Bond Books, was closing their door. She immediately emailed the store owner to offer any assistance to help them stay open.

“I raised my kids reading in that store,” she said. “I pictured my first book launch there.”

What she didn’t expect, in return, was a long email offering her the opportunity to take over the space and potentially own and operate her own business.

“They pretty much handed it to me on a silver platter,” she explained, adding the owner offered to help her secure the lease, and buy their remaining stock at a discounted rate.

Two months later, Ami was standing in her own bookshop.

Totally Book•ish opened their doors on October 9, 2019.

As is common with most entrepreneurs and new business owners, Ami had her own share of initial emotions, like fear and regret.

“Being a reader and a writer is one thing,“ Ami explains. “But running a business is completely different. There is a lot of learning.”

It was definitely a vertical learning curve. With two months in between the closing of Black Bond and the opening of Totally Book•ish, the community didn’t realize there was a new bookstore in town.

Ami was met with the challenge of letting people know that they were there and open for business. Since then, she has managed to settle right in and the community has welcomed her with open arms.

“People love that I’m local.”

Future plans for Totally Book•ish include writing classes for both children and adults, book clubs, and local author events and book launches.

In addition to the wonderful books that Ami has in store, she also offers products like puzzles, candles, coffee mugs, greeting cards, notepads and so much more. All the suppliers are Canadian and most of the products are locally sourced.

“We have the ability to order in almost any book you need.”

When asked if she had any advice to give to everyone during difficult times, she said:

“I would encourage the community to turn off the news and read more books.”

“And find something beautiful every day to bring hope to yourself or others.”

This won’t last forever and she wants to ensure that everyone knows how important human connections are.

“Maintain that human touch.”

There is a big push for shopping local right now and we all hope that we maintain that effort. The benefits of shopping local and supporting small enriches our community and the lives of the people that we know and love.

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