The Bookstore on Perron Street
By Cynthia Wandler

Family-run for Three Generations

The Bookstore on Perron Street is more than a bookstore, both in terms of its stock and its history. A bright, organized space, the offerings on display are a feast for browsers and buyers.

Kim Borle and her siblings own the business but Kim runs it; her daughter Angela Chatwin works alongside her as an employee. But, the beginnings of the store go back to a third generation, when Kim’s parents bought it in 1976. “It was just off Jasper Avenue and it was called Book Order Service of Canada … All it was was an ordering service where people would phone in to get books they couldn’t get in stores,” says Kim.

By 1981, when Kim’s dad moved the business into the basement of his St. Albert home, Kim started working with him; she was 23 at the time. “I had two small children and I brought them to work with me,” she says. Kim’s dad began stocking power engineering books, especially ASME codes. “There were no technical books, codes or standards in stock in all of Edmonton [then]. He was one of the first [places] in Alberta to stock these codebooks,”  says Kim. The store is still the only technical bookstore where engineers and all trades can purchase publications they need. In 1986, ready for expansion, the business was set up at its current location, in St. Albert’s cozy downtown district.

People come here because they know they can find something a bit different. - Angela Chatwin, employee
The Bookstore on Perron Street started as a family business three generations ago and is still run by the same family today
Kim Borle and her daughter, Angela Chatwin, work together at the bookstore. Photo by Cynthia Wandler.

Fun and Diverse Selection

The store’s stock now includes Rocky Mountain Soap Company products, household décor, Canadiana, toys and, of course, books – for children, adults and engineers. Something else customers can find is a selection of religious books and gifts. “People get really excited,” says Angela, “because they don’t want to drive into Edmonton if they don't have to.”

She thinks what makes their store unique is its eclectic variety. “There is something for everyone,” says Angela. “If I like it, I buy it for the store.”

“She’s a great buyer, so she’s got this great knowledge of what people like,” says Kim. Angela also works to source things for people they can’t find elsewhere; the store still deals in special orders for books, too.

The Bookstore on Perron Street sells everything from children's books to engineering manuals, plus cards, toys and decor

Strong Ties with Family and Customers

“I love being here. I love working with my family,” says Kim. “I love helping customers ... because you’re a small family-oriented business, you really care about those people; you really go out of your way to make sure that people have what they need.” In fact, Kim’s husband delivers to Edmonton. “If they say, ‘I need it today and a courier can’t get it to me today,’ he gets in his vehicle and drives it out there,” says Kim. “We have one customer he delivers to every week and she writes us beautiful little notes saying she appreciates the service so much because she just can’t get out here.” That customer is a St. Albert senior, who has ordered books from the store every week for at least 20 years.

Working with family can be challenging but is ultimately worth it. “We have our spats but it never affects us outside of work,” says Kim.  “So, we can have a big spat here and then we can go out and have dinner.” In fact, Kim says the only downfall of the family-run business is they can’t vacation together, because someone always has to be at the store. Now that’s a family-run business with heart.

The Bookstore on Perron Street started out by selling engineering manuals, then expanded to its current location to offer books, toys, decor and more
The Bookstore on Perron Street is located in downtown St. Albert, and sells books, toys, decor and more
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