A New Third Place

A New Third Place

June 25, 2020

Hi Bookies!

We hope you are all doing well and starting to get excited about the bookshop! We know we are!!

We cannot wait for conversations and book recommendations from and to you. We are looking forward to being a big part of the beautiful, exciting resurgence of our downtown Amherstburg.

Those windows just scream 'Come on in.' and the fireplace says 'Stay a while'.

It won't be long now before we are ......



You may have heard about us talking a lot about Third Places.  Let me explain why starting with the definition from Wikipedia.org: 


Third Place: the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). Third Places are anchors of the community life and further broaden more creative interaction.


The idea of third places started to gather momentum among sociologists in the late eighties at their conventions and was written about in their journals and periodicals. Sociologist Dr. Ray Oldenburg studied the concept; and building upon the work of Jane Jacobs, Roberta Gretz etc. he laid out his findings in a 1989 book entitled “The Great Good Place”. He identified the characteristics of a third place as welcoming, has vitality, encourages social interaction and conversation, is accepting and often centrally located. They are also accessible to both kids and seniors. Oldenburg’s book brought the concept into the mainstream and today many places aspire to be successful third places. 

Amherstburg already has a few successful third places whether they think of themselves as that or not - our Carnegie library, the new Caffeine & Co. and even the Tim Hortons off Murray  Street. The River Bookshop really aspires to be the town’s new third place and we will use our values -  educate, entertain, inspire and engage - to help us achieve that goal. 

Today bookstores  are often cited as successful third places. In Oldenburg’s second book, “Celebrating the Third Place - Inspiring Stories about Great Good Places at the Heart of the Community”, he talks about a number of third places across the world.  One of them is in Traverse City, Michigan - a lovely small town of around 20,000. Traverse City is a town from which Amherstburg could learn much. Located on Front Street, Horizon Books started out as a bookstore but has evolved into a popular cross-generational gathering place, not only selling books but holding cultural events regularly. Horizon, at 20,000 square feet, is ten times larger than River Bookshop so a cafe is not an option for us, but with our main floor and our second floor,  we too are planning to host frequent cultural events. More about our second floor concept in a future newsletter.   

As we continue with our restoration and design plans we are focused on creating a new third place that will help energize and inspire the town. One that has an economic, social and cultural purpose. A new third place that will help make Amherstburg even better

Richard Peddie

Book Seller and Community Builder 

Note: Interesting fact -  The original drug stores of the past were often successful third places with their breadth of wares and common roles as post office or lunch stands.  What was the original use of 67 Richmond?  A drug store!  History certainly does have a way of repeating itself. Oh - and of course both Oldenburg’s books will be available in our bookshop 📚