Bluffs Advocate


The Little Bookstore That Could

The Great Escape shows what community is all about

By Michelle Douglas

            If you live in the Upper Beaches area of Scarborough, you may know a small used bookstore called The Great Escape. For over 40 years, this bookstore has been serving the community with more than just books.

It was 18 years ago when Bruce and Marg bought the store from the previous owner, who had opened it over 25 years earlier. What began with two retired teachers creating a place to share their love of knowledge has become a community hub for all those who enjoy a good read. “This has always been a reading community,” said Bruce. “The people who live in this area tend to stick around.”

In 2011, the store was passed along to Katya. “I was actually a customer in the beginning. I was a stay-at-home mom, with part-time jobs,” Katya explained. After Bruce hired her, she provided Marg and him with more time to enjoy their retirement, knowing she was as passionate as they were about literature. Bruce told us that Katya has made “good changes” to the store, “expanding the purchase of new books,” while keeping the nostalgia of the store intact.

When we asked what brings people to the store, Katya explained that there are many reasons. “We are lucky enough to be in a community that wants us here. We have a good relationship with our customers, who are a big part of us.” She added that “people also come to experience the browse.” The customers we have seen are not only regulars, they are people who share a love of a good book and even a conversation. Katya also pointed out that selling used books not only brings people to the store, but also “requires us to be here [for them].” She told us that “the people involved make you want to be part of it. It’s a pleasure to be here.”

Though some have opted for an e-reader as their source for written material, others still feel that nothing compares to a printed book. They even share a love of the scent of a good book. Is it the love of books of all those involved, or even “an alignment of the stars,” as Katya says, that keeps the store in the community?

In an age of internet shopping and big-box stores, it is quite the accomplishment for any mom-and-pop business to keep its roots firmly planted in the ground. Yet, like with any plant, bearing fruit takes both commitment and dedication; this is what you find at The Great Escape. Katya, Bruce, and Marg understand what efforts must go into the store to continue serving this community. It looks like this plant’s roots are well developed as a result of the care that has been provided. Yet, as any gardener knows, the strength of a plant is not only dependent on the care it receives, but also the quality of the soil in which it is planted.

Here’s to the community for finding and appreciating its Great Escape.