The former home of the River Town Times is taking shape as a bookstore with the anticipated opening date possibly coming next month. The historic building at 67 Richmond St. is being transformed into the River Bookshop with owner Richard Peddie stating he hopes the bookshop is ready to welcome customers by mid-August.
Fortis Group is the lead contractor that is working to convert the 135-year-old building at the corner of Richmond St. and Ramsay St. into the bookstore. Peddie noted the windows along the front of the building as well as those along the side near the front corner of the building are larger than what was in there previously and better represent what the building looked like when it was first built in 1885. Two new windows have been installed on the main floor, which is also reflective of what the building looked like in 1885.
“It makes the place so much brighter,” Peddie said of the new windows. “It’s beautiful.”
The building will be painted white with a mural to go on the Ramsay St. side. “As soon as we paint the exterior of the building, the artist can come in, probably in July,” said Peddie. The content of the mural is being kept under wraps for the time being, but Peddie promises it will be “colourful and impactful.”
New windows have also been put in on the second floor of the building. What the second floor will be used for will be released publicly in the next few weeks but the second floor also features extensive renovations and upgrades. Programming on the second floor is likely to start in mid-September. Lead bookseller Lori Wightman noted there will be displays in the front of the store and a fi replace will be a “focal point.”
The River Bookshop will have over 6,000 books to sell and floors have been reinforced to handle the weight. The lighting and ceilings are also being shaped in ways to illuminate the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The building also has two new energy efficient furnaces, a new roof, an accessible washroom and new flooring including carpeting in the children’s area.
Peddie noted the children’s area will be one of their strengths with other books dealing with subjects like urbanism, Black Lives Matter, sports, climate change and more. Peddie and Wightman are also working to book authors, including sports and sports writing figures like Doug Smith, Brian Burke and Jimmy Devellano.
“We’re getting a lot of people to come down,” said Peddie.
Wightman said they are eager to feature Canadian authors as well, noting there are many that people may not have heard of. “We’ve got a lot of up-and-coming Canadian authors so we’re excited to feature them,” she said. There are also plans to feature local authors as well and bring them in for readings and signings. “There is a lot of talent in this area,” said Wightman.In addition to Wightman, there will be six employees at the River Bookshop. “They are all really excited,” said Wightman. “They will be really great assets.” Peddie added that in addition to the bookshop creating seven new jobs, they have locally sourced as many of the products as possible that are needed for the renovations. RTT PHOTOS BY RON GIOFU