WATCH: Lotus Books reborn as Huckleberry Books

New name, new location, same cat.

Paul Rodgers

As patrons may have noticed, Lotus Books has undergone a monumental metamorphosis recently, making changes to both location and name — both of which have been fixtures for many years.


Now known as Huckleberry Books, the business opened the doors of its new home on 9th Avenue South on Monday, Feb 11, moving from 10th Avenue South in downtown Cranbrook.

“It was not an easy decision,” said owner Erin Dalton. “We wanted to take that seriously, that bit of history, but this space was way too cool to pass up when it opened up so we just decided it was time to mix things up a bit.”

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Dalton bought the business back in 2012 from long-time owner Joanne Bellanger. Dalton says the exact details of the business’s origin story are “lost in the mists of time” to her, the store was opened by Tommy Wheeler in around 1972. At some point Elaine Doren took over, before Bellanger purchased it in 1999.

“I actually worked for Joanne for a couple of years shortly after she bought the store and then I moved away and she was retiring or looking to retire — to sell the store — so I moved back [from the West Coast] to take over in 2012.”

The decision to move was not made lightly, nor was it easy for Dalton to leave 10th Avenue.

“It was hard to say goodbye to 10th Avenue, we’ve made some good friends down there, but we’ve already been really warmly welcomed up here and I think because the store has such a long history with people who’ve been really involved with the community, we have a tonne of support coming in, we’re really grateful for that.”

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Moving locations also meant moving the store’s beloved mascot Max the cat, who Dalton says is adjusting just fine.

“He has adapted to the new space really well, I actually spent the first night he was here on a foamy on the floor of my office just to make sure he was okay and he was fine.”

As far as the change in the name of the business goes —another thing not to be taken lightly — Dalton said she has had a name change in the back of her head since she bought the store in 2012, but wanted to wait until the time was right.

“It’s a big deal to do all the rebranding and the logistics of it but this was the perfect opportunity so that’s why we just decided to go big or go home.”

She said she wanted a name that represented the area; huckleberries remind her of the height of summer, of hiking, and of bears.

Huckleberry Books is one of four book stores (new and used) in Cranbrook, and having four is something Dalton says Cranbrook is lucky for.

“That just does not happen,” she said. “And what I like about that is that we actually all work together which is really nice — it’s not a sense of competition, but I think what we do is, and I think every book store does this, we kind of just try to distill our personality down into an experience.

“And so when you come into our store I hope you feel like you’re coming into a space that you can explore and their might be an adventure that you don’t know that you’re waiting to have and maybe we can help you find that perfect book for your mother-in-law’s 72 birthday and she’s a woman who likes horses and baklava, I don’t know. But I think that personal touch is really what we enjoy doing, so we do it really well.”

The new location gives the business a chance to stretch out and better showcase their inventory, which consists of much more than carefully curated books. They offer topographical maps of the area, as well as hiking, gardening and sporting guides; they sell board games and puzzles and a huge variety of gifts.

Longtime employee Trevor Chaney is responsible for most of the book buying but Dalton handles the gift side of things for the most part.

“So there’s lots of different pieces that get pulled into that. Most of the sidelines, the gift stuff, are mine, because I have so much fun with that that I’m not ready to share it yet. And that can come from, just something that I stumble across when I’m travelling, something another book store has recommended, something a customer has asked for, it’s really kind of very organic.”

The store also has an amazing website, allowing people to access the inventory and place orders, making Christmas shopping about as easy as it gets, for one example. They also recently started a book subscription series — an idea that Dalton “unabashedly and unapologetically stole from a bookstore in Bath, England.”

“I totally stole it from them and I have to give them credit, because I emailed them about it and said I’m gonna steal your idea and they had some really good suggestions for me, really supportive.”

They rolled out the subscription series this past winter for the first time. Dalton personally chose three good winter reading books, packaged them with some gifts and treats and mailed them out to people who had had the package purchased for them as a gift. They kept the first round fairly low key in order to work out any potential kinks, but the idea was received well and they will be doing it again in the summer.

Dalton has loved stories her whole life, and can’t remember a time when she wasn’t surrounded by a mountain of books. And while she admits owning a bookstore doesn’t just entail sitting around and reading all day, it is a great place to work for her.

“Sometimes it’s easy to blur that line between being a book-lover and being a business owner so you have to make sure you’re really clear about that, but there’s something to play with every day, there’s some way to be creative, there’s a way to share that love of stories and I think as humans we need those stories to figure out our world and communicate with each other and share ideas and that’s just what I love to do every day, that’s my favourite thing.”

And so if you haven’t already, make sure to check out Huckleberry Books at its new home on 9th Avenue South, if only just to come in and say hi to Max.

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