New owners take helm at Canterbury Book Store
Editor’s note: The Daily Press features a profile of an area business each week. This week’s featured business is Canterbury Book Store in Escanaba.
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By Jordan Beck
ESCANABA — Canterbury Book Store has been a fixture in the community since the ’60s, but it recently re-opened under new management. The store’s new owners, Rebecca Bender and Jesse Traub, said things have been going well during their first few months in this role.
According to Bender, who is an Escanaba native, she came back to the area after she and Traub got married in 2016.
“We took some time off from our jobs downstate and wanted to move back up to the Upper Peninsula,” Bender said.
While they were in the U.P., Bender and Traub learned that the woman who had owned the Canterbury Book Store for decades was planning to retire. After considering the possibility of buying the business for a few months, they decided to go through with this plan.
“We said ‘let’s (deliver) Shirley Hivala an offer letter,” Traub said. Hivala accepted their offer, and — after she “coached” Bender and Traub for about a month — the store re-opened in April 2018.
Traub said the people of Escanaba have welcomed Canterbury Book Store’s return with open arms.
“People have been very supportive, both with their encouragement and with buying books from us,” he said.
Bender said one of her favorite things about running the store has been learning more about people’s tastes in books.
“Just getting acquainted with the favorite topics and authors of the people in this area has been very interesting,” she said, noting that adventure books, young adult fiction, paranormal romances, and children’s books have all been popular at the store.
Bender and Traub have made some changes to Canterbury Book Store since they purchased the business, including a re-organization of the store. As part of this initiative, they bought shelving from another local book store after it closed recently.
“We (purchased) all of Book World’s old shelves,” Traub said.
They are also in the midst of remodeling the store, a process which has included work on its ceiling.
“Underneath the drop ceiling is a tin ceiling,” Bender said.
A new area has been added for the store’s youngest customers, as well.
“We have a children’s play area now,” Bender said.
Bender said she is aiming to make use of the store’s second floor for special events in the future.
“We are currently renovating the second floor area, and hope to host book clubs, board game nights, (and) story nights,” she said.
She also hopes to continue the store’s existing educational partnerships while creating new ones.
“We would like to work more with the library and schools, as well,” she said.
Traub thanked Hivala for her help in getting him and Bender ready to run Canterbury Book Store.
“We’ve learned a lot from her and owe her a huge debt of gratitude,” he said.
Bender said she is thankful for the community’s response to the store’s re-opening.
“We are very grateful for how supportive everyone has been,” she said.