Bookstore is a family affair

[attach]5431[/attach]Last month a gentleman walked into The Pleasant Bookstore, picked up a large volume on civilization and took a big whiff.

“He went sniff, ‘I just love the smell of books’ and he said ‘you can’t get that any other way’,” says Pat Mortimer.

Although she thought about specializing in a specific genre since launching the bookstore 30 years ago, Mortimer says offering a variety of books has allowed her to meet far more interesting people.

“Peter Newman came in one day and I thought, ‘oh he looks familiar’ and he looked around and he came back with a paperback Peter Newman book so I thought, ‘well that can’t be him then,’ ” she says. “So I sold him his book for about $3 or $5 or something and he paid with credit card and I look and it said Peter Newman.”

The bookstore features a selection of new and used romance novels, thrillers, mysteries, classics, cookbooks and reference books, most of which they receive from shoppers in exchange for store credit.

Mortimer and her son Monserrat, who took over the business when his mom retired in 2000, say some of the highlights of their job are getting to meet nice and interesting people and the moments they help customers find a book they’ve wanted for years.

“It could be a $2 book and it’s still the most exciting thing to be able to find something like that,” says Mortimer.

“They often run out and buy a lottery ticket,” he adds.

While many other bookstores have come and gone over the years, Mortimer credits their longevity to providing good customer service and knowing their clientele.

“We know what people are looking for, we know our people, we know our customers but the main thing is service,” she says. “We’ve also been lucky with the landlord because our rent has stayed fairly reasonable, otherwise we wouldn’t have made it and I know that’s what has happened.”

Having lived in the area most of her life, Mortimer says she never thought of opening The Pleasant Bookstore in another community. Aside from an initial four years on Mt. Pleasant Road, they’ve maintained their current location on Eglinton Avenue East at Bayview Avenue for 26 years.

Mortimer recently stepped back into her old job while Monserrat was in the hospital and says it was nice to see how many customers were concerned.

“People were constantly coming in not to buy but coming in to ask about him and that’s a very good feeling,” she says.

“The number of cards I received from customers was staggering,” he adds.