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Alta States

Dan Ellis: Bucking the odds

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The bookstore, he says, was so refreshing that way. “It’s a very calm, very positive environment,” he says. “Everything is slowed way down. Do you know what I mean? Most people who come into a bookstore are in a good mood. They come into the store with smiles on their faces. After all, books provide an escape for people. And a bookstore is their gateway to that escape…”

For the next couple of years, Dan worked side-by-side with Hazel. “She taught me how to do orders, and deal with book distributors and generally figure out the book business. It was hard work. But it was fun too.”

And while he says that he remained true to Hazel’s vision once she left the store for good — “I’ll never be able to fill her shoes,” he says. “And I have no intention of even trying.” — Dan’s business acumen and work ethic have certainly raised the stakes at Armchair. Today, the little-bookstore-that-could sprawls over 1,200 square feet of space and boasts over 7,600 different titles and nearly 15,000 books. “And that number will double during peak season,” he says proudly.

A burst of laughter. “Most people come into the store and assume that I’ve read every book on the shelf. Well, that’s gotta be one of the biggest myths in the book business. Why? Because when you run a bookstore, you’re too busy taking care of business to have time to read…”

Still, he manages to find time to get his reading fix in “early in the morning, before my kids wake up, and late at night when everyone else is asleep.” He sighs. “I can’t remember the last time I had the leisure to just sit down and read a book in the middle of the day…”

Although it’s grown far beyond its original space, Armchair Books still exudes a sense of easy-going intimacy that is so vital in an operation of that kind. It’s also remained in the same corner of Village Square where it started. Down the hall is Gone Bakery. Around the corner is Moguls’ Café. It’s a little oasis of calm in a busy, bustling town centre where chain stores and global brands increasingly dominate.