Post Horizon Booksellers Celebrates a Decade of Bookselling.
"It's all about the books. It's always been all about the books" Nelson Reid, owner of Post Horizon Booksellers said while reflecting on the stores ten-year anniversary.
Nelson opened the store on February 1, in 2008 and hardly knew a person in the city when he arrived. He is originally from Vancouver Island but had been living abroad, in SE Asia, with his family. They chose to come to Moose Jaw because it was close to Caronport and their daughter was enrolled in high school there.
The most difficult thing about running a book store, Nelson learned, is the amount of time required to run it successfully. He works in the daytime, when the shop is open to customers, then he often comes back again in the evening to do the work he didn't have time for in the day. "It was a very steep learning curve" he said. "I'd never run a store of any kind before. It's more demanding than I had ever imagined."
But it’s the evening work that is the work he finds the most intriguing. "I'm a lifelong reader and lover of books" Nelson said, "both as objects and as the vehicle to tell stories and provide information." So researching books becomes an essential part of that work, and not just of the story or the author, but sometimes the history of the particular copy he has on hand.
"We think of a book as a story or information. But I like to look at books as objects to treasure, to care for, so I consider myself as a custodian of other people's words".
That ethos is evident if you've ever gone into Post Horizon. There is always a stack of books on the counter, alongside the tools he uses to clean, prepare and maintain his product, and in Nelson's spare moments, when he is not serving customers, you can see him working on the books, getting them ready to be shelved.
The store has witnessed a lot of changes in the area, along High and River Streets over the decade, moreso than most businesses have: neighboring businesses coming in and out, the demolition of night life on River Street, the rise of Mosaic Place and the seemingly never-ending barrage of road construction.
But of all the major city events that have thrust themselves in Post Horizon’s way, what he remembers most vividly was the Jubilee Block fire, which burned down four businesses (Scrubs, Vintage Vibe, Kergano's and Sooter's Studio) and caused severe smoke damage to much of the Prowse Block, including the book store.
“We were down for six weeks because of that fire, and people were so supportive and helpful the whole time."
Nelson is also grateful for the relationship he has built with McNally Robinson, Canada's largest independent book retailer. He was introduced to them through the SK Festival of Words and has continued to work with them in his own store. He is able to bring in new books through McNally-Robinson, which is a neat thing for Moose Jaw, as readers do not have to go to big box stores in Regina to buy new releases.
Nelson plays a part in the SK Festival of Words. Together with McNally-Robinson, which provides all the Festival books, he runs the pop-up FOW bookstore at the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery. “It’s great to meet the authors in person during the event, and throughout the past decade, the Festival office-staff have been such an encouragement to keep my store in business" he said.
Over the years, Post Horizon has hosted book launches for some of those authors, Robert Currie, Jim McLean, Ken Dalgarno and Ted Dyck to name just a few.
Three years ago, they received a call at the store from an agent in Texas wanting to arrange for WP Kinsella to set up and autograph books for customers. WP Kinsella, for those who don't know, was a massively successful novelist and columnist known most for writing the book Shoeless Joe, which would later be adapted into the classic Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams, as well as the short story collection, Dance Me Outside, which was also adapted into a movie.
Technological advancements in the literature world - things like Kobo and Amazon - haven't dissuaded Nelson in the least. Books still move in and out of his store at a pace he is happy with. "People read books on their IPad's and if they like them, they still come here and buy the real book for their shelves" he said.
Nelson is thankful for the help and guidance many have given him over his time as a book seller.
Tim Tokaryk, formerly of Red Coat Books in Eastend, SK, was the source for the critical mass of initial inventory. Wanda, Nelson’s wife, found their retail location on High St. and worked two other jobs to support the store through the startup years. Her father, Elmer Huber, designed and built the floor shelves. Leah Spafford became a mentor in the book trade. Christine Scott at Centennial Books in Regina helped make the store known. And over the years there have been many others who volunteered time and energy to make the store what it is today.
Whether or not he can foresee another decade in the book selling business, Nelson said, "Yes. The business will continue to evolve in that period of time. I still have lots to learn about books, and about working retail. But I will continue as a bookseller, in some form."