A 19-year-old girl once set foot in a children’s bookshop. She was bewitched by what she saw and from then on, owning a book store was the dream she held close as she progressed through her life, eventually getting a degree in children’s literature and becoming a writer.
Years later, that girl’s dream is coming true and Sheree Fitch could not be more excited to see her book shop come to life.
“That’s been my life—children and books,” Fitch said. She is now a well-known children’s author of books such as Mabel Murple and Sleeping Dragons All Around. She also writes adult books and books for young adults.
Over the last couple of years, Fitch has been fighting to keep the small school in River John open by using a Hub Model for the space.
“It was just an incredible opportunity for the school to be retained,” she said.
Sadly, the model was rejected and it left Fitch and others wondering where to turn next for the community of River John.
“We had brought (the book store) up on and off during the Hub proposal,” Fitch said about discussions she had with her husband, Gilles Plante.
“My husband said, ‘Well, we’ve got that old farm house over there’,” she said.
After attending the 2016 Georgetown conference in Georgetown, Prince Edward Island, Fitch was reinvigorated to chase her dream of opening a book store that would be nestled right across the street from her home in River John.
“The entrepreneurial spirit is about trying to fly,” said Fitch.
She is hoping to have a soft opening of the store next June, once her husband has finished all of the renovations to the two buildings she will be using as a book store and space for workshops and storytelling.
“I’m going to carry Canadian children’s books and Atlantic books for adults, so there’s books for all ages,” Fitch mentioned. ”We’ll have a lot of events; I have a lot of friends that are authors and we’ll have book readings.”
She continued, “I will curate the collection very carefully.”
Fitch excitedly noted that she already has interest from schools to visit what will be Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe for class trips and experiential learning.
“I’ve got incredible faith that we can change – children’s book by children’s book,” Fitch said.
She mentioned that the store itself will be as much about story telling as it will be about the books. She aims to make the shop about the experience more than the retail aspect.
“The motivation here isn’t to make a ton of money,” Fitch said. “It’s experiential learning and tourism and donkey hugs!”
River John author Sheree Fitch sits on the front step of what will eventually become Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe, with her husband Gilles Plante, who will be doing the renovations to the building. (Brimicombe photo)