Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books bids fond farewell

by Kelly Harrison

Kaleidoscope Books  IMG_1188
Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books at 1018 Bank Street will be closing its doors after 11 years of bringing book magic to kids of all ages.
Photo: Kelly Harrison

After more than a decade of blood (paper cuts), sweat (four location moves) and tears (of joy and frustration) we have decided that it is time to close the store. It was a very difficult and painful decision to make, but one that we know is the right decision for the three of us. How do you say goodbye to something that you absolutely love and believe in with all your heart?

Since we made the announcement on our Facebook page about a week ago as I write this (January 24) and the CBC and The Citizen ran pieces on our announcement, we have been absolutely overwhelmed by the community’s response. We have received emails, Facebook messages, phone calls and visits from hundreds of people with wonderful messages of love and gratitude. We are so grateful for the good wishes, the stories of how we have helped so many kids become the voracious readers they are today, the tears and the insistence that our very tiny corner in the Glebe is filled with magic.

Here are just a few reasons why we will miss our store and our Glebe neighbours:

  • The two magical Harry Potter parties we threw to celebrate the releases of book seven in the series and the play. After hours of enjoying Polyjuice potion and Butterbeer cupcakes, fortune telling with Professor Trelawny, pinning the scar on Harry, Quidditch races, making Hedwigs, guessing the Bertie Bot’s Beans flavours, and playing trivia games, the real magic of the evening was seeing everyone at midnight, both kids and adults, so excited about a new book.
  • The packed book launches for so many talented and amazing Ottawa authors
  • The parents who can never say no to a book because they are doing everything they can to feed their child’s book addiction
  • Playing hide and seek in the store with a little person ducking between shelves and giggling
  • The honour of being the very first place a child has been allowed to come to by themselves and seeing how excited they are to make that first solo journey
  • The joy on someone’s face when we place the “perfect” book in their hands to give to their kid who is fascinated with squirrels, or space, or sloths, or pirates, or princesses, or fairies, or cars, trucks or any vehicle
  • Asking a teen customer if she needs a bag for her book and having her say, “No thanks. It would just get in the way of reading on the walk home”
  • Hearing a packed gymnasium of kids chant Ken Oppel’s name like a rock star because he is a rock star
  • The look of delight on a customer’s face as they tell us they are expecting a baby
  • Watching a group of kids and adults absolutely enthralled as Barbara Reid explains how she makes her beautiful art from plasticine
  • Listening to Sheree Fitch read her delightful Mabel Murple and then hear her make up an amazing poem on the spot for each little audience member after she held their hands and asked them questions about themselves

When I did the CBC radio interview the host played a clip from a piece that we did with them a few days after the store opened. I listened to 10-years-ago me talk about why we opened the store, how we wanted to get to know our customers and what they liked, how we wanted to create a cozy and welcoming space and how we wanted people to trust our recommendations because we were reading the books on our shelves. A decade later I know that we did exactly what we wanted to do. We lived our dreams and created a place where kids could love books and reading just as much as we do. We cannot thank you enough for allowing us to be such a special part of your lives. You are all certainly very special to us too.

At the moment, we do not have a timeline in place for closing the store. There is the hope and the possibility that someone will buy it. We will need to sell the store or at least the condo unit that we are in, so the transition will be determined by the sale. So for now the shelves are full of wonderful books and we are more than happy to continue connecting the right book with the right reader. We will update our Facebook page and Twitter feed as soon as we have a concrete timeline.

Thank you again for your wonderful wishes and kind thoughts. We feel so very lucky and will miss you and our magical little corner in the Glebe.

Kelly Harrison is co-owner of Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books.

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