Lisa Doucet is the Co-Manager of Woozles, a children’s bookstore in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she has worked for the last sixteen years. As today’s Canadian Kidlit Hero, Lisa shared with us some of her stories and experiences—and a lot of her passion.
What led you to become a bookseller?
It was actually a happy coincidence that I ended up at Woozles. Prior to working here, I had worked as the Retail Manager at the Discovery Shop, the gift shop at our local science centre. One of the first people I met when I began that position was Trudy Carey, who was the Manager of Woozles until her retirement four years ago. When I eventually left the Discovery Shop and was doing volunteer work at a local dance studio, Trudy suddenly found herself with an opening for a full-time bookseller at Woozles. Knowing me through my work at the Discovery Centre, she offered me the job at Woozles in the changing room at Halifax Dance after a lunch hour dance class! It soon felt like I had always been meant to work at Woozles: my life-long love of reading (and enormous passion for Anne of Green Gables and all of LM Montgomery’s books), as well as my enthusiasm for working with people had found the perfect home.
What is your favourite part about selling kids’ books?
There are so many things that I love about selling children’s books that I don’t even know where to start! Of course, I love the fact that it gives me even more reason to read so many amazing different books, to discover new authors, to read as many YA and children’s books as my heart desires…AND THEN, it gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about what I’ve read with so many other readers and purchasers of books!! I love the challenge of finding the perfect book for a particular person/situation; getting to know individuals and/or schools and getting a feel for what “works” for them and being able to have recommendations ready for them even before they ask. I love the tremendous variety of people that I get to meet each day, and I feel so honoured that, in many cases, I play an important role in their lives. And I get to not only meet amazing and interesting and wonderful people as customers but I also get to meet countless other booksellers, book reps, editors, librarians, marketing people and so many others who are also part of this wonderful world of bookselling, and they inspire me and move me. And I love the fact that I believe that I am making a difference in the world as a children’s bookseller, that what I do really matters and makes the world a better place. Those are some of the highlights of what I love about selling children’s books
Do you host author events in your store? What do you do to make them special?
We occasionally hold specific sorts of author events in our store, or often we will collaborate with another group to hold an event. For example, Sacred Heart School that is very nearby and has many lovely spaces for hosting various types of events. We recently had a Storytime Pajama Party at the store where author Sheree Fitch came and read stories to a store full of rapt children and parents. Illustrator Sydney Smith joined us for the festivities which helped make the evening special. We served milk and cookies, had a prize for the best pajamas, we gave out a little gift to each person who came in pajamas and had a couple of special prize draws taking place as well. This was all part of a larger event that was taking place, Spring Garden Road’s “Shopping Under the Stars”.
Can you share a favourite story about working as a bookseller?
I have so very many favourite stories about working as a bookseller but maybe one that is nearest and dearest to my heart (and the most long-lasting one) is a particular relationship that I have established. When I started at Woozles 16 years ago, I soon became the go-to person to help a particular customer select books for her three young grandchildren. The oldest and I shared a particular fondness for fantasy books and I became the person who would get books ready for her whenever she needed them for all three of them. Since then, there have been six more grandchildren and I have had the pleasure of watching all ten of them grow up. I have witnessed as they’ve made their bar and bat mitzvahs, won awards, graduated high school. None of these grandchildren live in Halifax, and every August, at some point, the entire family comes to Halifax and there is a designated Woozles day. And I wait, anxiously, until the first one of them bursts through the door and this family that has come to mean so much to me comes pouring into the store with all of their energy and joy and stories of the past year, and they surround me with all of their love for each other and for books and with their cries of “Lisa, help me choose one now! Lisa, have you read this one…” This grandmother is now a dear friend and they all are such a special part of my life. They are one of the many reasons that I feel so fortunate to have found “my calling” here at Woozles.
What would you like our readers to know about your bookstore?
I would like people to know, if they don’t already, that Woozles is truly a magical, very special place where books are cherished, people are also cherished, and friendships are made. Everyone at Woozles believes in the importance of what we do, loves that we get to do it and has a deep respect for the significant role that Woozles has played in the lives of so many people (children and adults alike) for the last 34 years. Almost 35, in fact. Woozles will celebrate its 35th birthday in October of this year so there will be major festivities to mark that occasion!