Kinder Books has been doing a brisk business since its recent opening in River Market.
The Record had a chance to chat with owner Anne Uebbing about the book store, which specializes in children’s books for kids up to age 12 – but can order books for folks of any age. Kinder Books is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 101 – 810 Quayside Dr.
Why did you get into the bookstore business?
I grew up in Germany, where even little towns have at least one bookstore. Reading has been part of my life since the moment when sounds and letters made sense for me. I grew up in a family that appreciated books and I spent lots of my free time at the library or in one of the three bookstores in our town. Bookstores have always been a place for me to dive into a story, to disappear, enter someone else’s thoughts, find a reflection of my own life, learn new things and revisit thoughts from the past, discover and explore other worlds and perspectives.
I have always appreciated the knowledge and guidance of “book people.” I see this work as a valuable contribution to education and society. I feel in the right place to make a difference with my work.
Can you tell us about Kinder Books?
I started offering books in 2011. Being new to this business I was looking for a flexible and less-risky business model, so the main focus was initially on community markets such as artisan and farmers’ markets. But as I was also working part time as an early childhood educator, I added more and more teaching resources to the Kinder Books selection.
Eventually I found myself selling books and other teaching materials at teacher conferences and other specialty conferences such as Indigenous conventions in addition to public markets. We then also started selling our titles online.
Why did you decide to open a brick and mortar shop in New West?
The River Market in New Westminster was actually one of my first pop-up bookstore locations. I was invited to be part of the Artisan Markets/New West Craft, which are now organized by the New West Arts Council.
I am very grateful for the support of River Market and the Arts Council of New West and the opportunity to grow my business and build a New West customer base. One of the highlights of the collaboration with New West Arts Council was Kinder Books' role in organizing the kids’ programming during Litfest in 2017, which featured local children’s book authors and publishers.
When COVID hit, in-person conferences and markets were cancelled and the opportunities were reduced to online sales. While there were some online sales, the real value of Kinder Books is the in-person consultation. So, I had to make a choice: either close down the business completely or finally step up and meet the challenge to open a brick and mortar store which I have dreamt about for many years.
River Market's unique business model to support entrepreneurs and small businesses to provide space to grow was an ideal choice for me. They generously offered me a space for my book business which I then opened on Aug. 7 of this year. Since this short time we have been well received, not only by families searching for quality books, but also by teachers who appreciate the unique selection of products we offer in the store.
How does Kinder Books differ from other book stores?
Each book in our store is carefully selected. We are always on the lookout for meaningful and relevant titles that support current events and issues focusing on diversity and inclusivity. Our goal is to find special stories that will be memorable to the kids and families who read them over and over. Indigenous and local authors and publishers are very important to us as well.
We also offer products that can work as learning extensions to enhance the experience of a story such as blocks, puppets, puzzles, garlands and more. We have partnered with local artisans and have started to support each other in our businesses.
Our monthly displays will reflect current events such as Orange Shirt Day or World River Day for the month of September.
We are planning to invite local artists to exhibit their work on our small art display to support the monthly theme.
Is there a message you’d like to get out to parents/caregivers about the impact books can have on children’s lives?
A book is so much more than its sum of words and pictures. Especially for children, a physical book stimulates more senses than just the eyes. The size, shape, weight, texture and even smell of a book stay with a child and cannot be replaced with an ebook. It also represents time spent together and builds knowledge and memories with loved ones through daily repetition and the conversations it may spawn. Everybody can remember their favourite book when growing up – the excitement when understanding the meaning of words or the one illustration that sticks for life.