Russell begins march of a million books

Russell Books is moving its inventory, estimated at a million volumes, across Fort Street to its new location — and doing it the hard way.

The store’s 60 staff are packing books into boxes and moving them across the street by hand, truck and, in some cases, with a pallet mover.

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“It’s a Herculean task,” said Jordan Minter, who manages Russell Books. His wife, Andrea, is the store’s owner.

On Thursday, the store temporarily ceased buying books while the move is underway. The existing store at 734 Fort St. will remain open for sales while the transfer is completed to the new digs at 747 Fort St., last used by Staples.

Minter said the need to transfer stock sparked many ideas:

• A conveyor belt running from store to store across the street and over the traffic.

• Asking the city to close Fort Street between Douglas Street and Blanshard Street to allow an enormous outdoor, market-style sale and transfer.

• A human chain to pass books from one person to the next, again and again and again.

“And I don’t really want to get into it, but we might even have to do it at night,” said Minter. “It’s just not that easy trucking books across a busy street.”

It is not under time pressure to make the move — an opening date for the new location hasn’t been set, apart from a goal of early October.

“I like to say our moving day will be the month of September,” said Minter.

Russell Books dates back to the 1950s in Montreal with Andrea’s grandfather, Reginald Russell, opening a used bookstore called the Book Nook. Diana and Ron DePol, Andrea’s parents, opened Russell Books in Victoria in 1991.

The business has been working out of three sites: Fort Street, a storage space under the Cactus Club at the corner of Douglas and Fort Streets, and Books on View on View Street, which shut down on Thursday.

There are also a number of book-filled storage containers at family properties on the Saanich Peninsula.

The move will consolidate the operation and make it more manageable.

Retail space will expand by 6,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet. Also in the works is a 10,000 square foot warehouse space in James Bay.

Intake, sorting and completing inventory processing will take place behind the scenes. Meanwhile, browsers and shoppers will gain a more pleasant experience.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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