Clive and Christine Tanner stand in the midst of some of the 50,000 volumes they had to move when the Military and history bookstore was forced to close its doors. (Tim Collins/New staff)

Moving Sidney’s Military Bookstore a Herculean task

It was the year that man first set foot on the moon, Led Zeppelin released their first album and Richard Nixon became President. 1969 was also the year that Clive and Christine Tanner opened their first bookstore.

“I’d gone up to the Yukon on a sales trip and my wife, Christine, who has always been an avid reader, told me we should become booksellers. We bought a bookstore and stayed there for about 12 years before coming to Sidney. We’d come here on a visit and thought it was quite nice, you see,” explained Tanner.

After coming to Sidney the Tanners proceeded to open a bookstore on Beacon Avenue that still bears their name. They sold that shop but, over the years they have opened and operated a series of other bookshops. Sidney eventually became known as Booktown.

Perhaps the most fascinating of those bookstores, and one Clive took particular pride in operating, was the Military and History Bookshop on Fourth Street.

Now that shop has been forced to close as development along Fourth (Street) resulted in the loss of the lease for the property.

“History is important. If more people read and understood history we might not have some of the political thrashing about that we see today,” observed Tanner.

He said that the focus of his bookstore was particularly relevant to Sidney given the large number of military veterans living in the community. It made closing the shop even more disheartening, but Tanner stresses the material in that shop will continue to be available.

“I was sad to have to close the doors, but we’ve moved the entire inventory and will be operating out of this shop instead,” explained Tanner, gesturing at the multitude of shelves in the back of Beacon Books on Beacon Avenue, one of the other Sidney bookstores owed by the couple.

“We only had about 900 square feet in the old shop (Military and History Bookshop) so I didn’t think it would be too hard to move it here, but I keep forgetting that books are heavy,” laughed Tanner, who at 84 years of age still carries himself with an air that leads one to believe he is more than capable of carrying his share of books.

“It turns out we had to move about 40 to 50 thousand books. That’s a lot of work,” said Tanner, adding that they first moved the inventory to a garage where they are sorting the books before bringing them to Beacon Books.

Christine Tanner smiled as she surveyed the new additions to the shop she manages.

“We love books, obviously, but as a bookseller you don’t often have enough time to read. Used and antique books are a difficult business. You have to have a good foundation in books and be able to recognize their value as first editions, signed volumes … it’s almost like being an art dealer,” said Christine.

She added that another challenge facing booksellers is rooted in technology.

“A lot of the sales of books, particularly used books, occurs online. We list all of our best volumes and do a lot of business there.”

Clive pointed out that the couple has been involved with online sales since the beginning and used the Vancouver Island tech firm of ABEBooks long before that firm was purchased by the giant, Amazon.

“It doesn’t matter to me how we sell our books, only that people read, and learn and have their lives enriched. It’s why we’re in this business,” he said.

Just Posted

Group seeks to build honorary RCMP sculpture in Sooke

Sooke RCMP officers work long hours protecting the community, and a local… Continue reading

Refugee family gets help with rent

Sooke council changes scope of $3,600 grant

Central Saanich police chase down speeding biker

A motorcyclist from the Lower Mainland was caught on the Tsawout reserve… Continue reading

Sooke high school welcomes new principal

Laura Fulton was formerly vice principal at Belmont High and Spencer Middle schools

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait seeking re-election

So far, Maja Tait only declared candidate in mayor’s race

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

Global Affairs aware of report of two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria

The foreigners were heading south from Kafanchan to Abuja when they were ambushed around Kagarko

Saanich lights up Layritz Park with solar-powered lights

Saanich plans to install more solar-powered lights after installing them in Layritz… Continue reading

Whistler role in potential Calgary Olympic bid would be welcome: IOC

Calgary is mulling whether to vie for the 2026 Games, and could look to facilities in B.C.

Food industry failing at voluntary sodium reduction: Health Canada

Health Canada report shows the food industry made no meaningful progress in curtailing salt levels

Most Read