Whimsical Woozles puts a new cover on their 43-year-old story

Posted on December 10, 2021 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments

Families have visited Woozles in Halifax, N.S. for 43 years to find books, toys and other treasures. Known as Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore, the vision was always much greater: to be “a place for and about children”. In addition to selling hand-selected books and providing quality service, Woozles hosts various community initiatives to encourage a love of reading.

After four decades in the old yellow building with a green door, Woozles announced plans to move in 2021.

 

The original Woozles location since 1978 on 1533 Birmingham Street in the core of downtown Halifax, N.S. (Photo credit: Nevermore Press Ltd.)

 

Origin Story

Woozles was first opened at 1533 Birmingham Street on October 14, 1978, by founders Liz and Brian Crocker and Ann Brimer. Liz says inspiration came when trying to find books for her one-year-old daughter. She shared the idea of starting a children’s bookstore with her husband Brian and friend Ann and both were on board. They purchased the quaint building on Birmingham Street, a manual about bookselling and Cole’s Notes on accounting. The rest is history. Opening day brought a crowd of 600.

As for the name, Crocker remembered reading about the mysterious Woozles in Winnie the Pooh to her daughter and thought the sense of whimsy was perfect for the new business.

 

(L) Books on display at the original Woozles location, and (R) the old comfy reading chair (Photo credit: Nevermore Press Ltd.)

 

Changing Operations

Starting with about 600 square feet, Woozles expanded throughout the 1980s and eventually purchased the building next door. There have also been changes to business operations: after hand-writing receipts for eight years, Woozles got their first cash register in 1986, their first computer in the ‘90s and now offer worldwide ecommerce sales through their website.

Product inventory has also changed with the times. Crazes such as beanie babies came and went, while others like records have had a resurgence.

But, above all, the goal was to create a welcoming experience for children. Woozles hosts various workshops and programs for the community like Battle of the Books (introduced in 1986) and Woozles Writes! (since 2010). As part of their 40th birthday celebrations in 2019, Woozles helped two young girls publish their first book.

 

(L) Inside Woozles’ new location on 6013 Shirley Street, and (R) the reupholstered old comfy chair (Photo credit: Woozles)

 

The Big Move

In the spring of 2021, Woozles announced plans to move. Maintaining the old building was becoming a challenge, as was accessibility in downtown Halifax. They set out to find a new space with less upkeep, more parking and better accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers.

Put on the market in July, the building sold quickly. But, they arranged to maintain ownership until after Woozles’ 43rd birthday in October, as one final celebration.

 

Owner Liz Crocker reading in the old comfy chair at the new location (Photo credit: Saltwire)

 

Settling In

Woozles officially opened their new location at 6013 Shirley Street on November 20, 2021. Customers were sad to see the old building go but supported the move. Business has been steady since.

Settling into the new space, Liz says the team enjoys its openness — everyone gets a happy welcome upon entry. Customers can also still enjoy elements of the old store that made the move, including the three-foot plush Clifford and the 1920s comfy reading chair.

Woozles’ story continues, on a fresh page.

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