The store is run entirely by dedicated volunteers from Monday to Saturday. One of the familiar faces at the store during the past 23 years has been Gerry Wilson.
He worked his final shift at the store on March 16 because he will be moving to Regina to be closer to his family.
“I’ve met a lot of excellent people,” he said. “Everybody who comes in is really, really good. Never had a problem with nobody.”
He started to volunteer at the SPCA Bookstore in 1993 after someone who was already helping out at the store asked him if he was interested to become involved.
“I’ve always been into books and it’s something to do,” he said.
The SPCA Bookstore has been in the community for four decades. A 40th anniversary celebration for the store took place in November 2016.
Wilson started to volunteer at the store when it was still located in a much smaller building on 1st Avenue NE.
“It was just a little dinky building down there at the corner,” he recalled. “I don’t know how we operated.”
The store moved to its current location at 37 1st Avenue NE in March 2006. It houses over 15,000 books and volunteers will carry out a variety of tasks during a shift.
“We accept books in trade or we take donations of books, and we sort them and put them on the shelf if they’re saleable,” he said. “If they’re not saleable, then we will recycle them.”
A shift is usually two hours long, but his schedule was slightly different. He worked a two-hour shift on Wednesday mornings and then volunteered for another four hours on Thursday afternoons. He also keeps busy by helping people to do their income tax.
Wilson will miss the SPCA Bookstore when he moves to Regina, but he is already planning to volunteer in that city too.
“I’m going to have to find some other kind of volunteer work,” he said. “I’ll go over to the community centre and see if people need their income tax done.”
Store Manager Anne Whitlock said the store's success is entirely due to the support of committed volunteers.
“We have had through the years volunteers that have been here for a long time, but some of them have now retired altogether,” she mentioned. “We have one lady that is in her nineties and is still volunteering here on a regular basis. She’s just an absolute gem. She’s a lot like Gerry, very interested in being active and an excellent volunteer.”
At the moment there are about a dozen volunteers helping out at the store during the week.
“I’m waiting for some of my snowbirds to come back and get back into volunteering again,” she said.
She is currently looking for more people to join the team of volunteers. Another volunteer who has been helping at the store for about three years is also moving away.
“I’m actually in the market now for two volunteers, possibly three, because Gerry does do a four-hour shift on Thursday afternoons, but it’s actually designed so that our shifts are two hours long,” she said. “We try to keep people on the same schedule every week as much as possible and should there be a situation where they can’t get into work, they just have to let me know and I can usually either track somebody else down to take their spot, because I do have some volunteers that are more on a casual basis, or I wind up coming in myself to cover the shift.”
The store's regular hours from Monday to Saturday are 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-5 p.m. It is closed on Sundays and statutory holidays.
“We like to keep the store open as much as possible simply because our customers expect us to be here and the bookstore is probably the main source of funds for the SPCA in Swift,” she said.
The store has a variety of books for everybody's reading taste. The different categories include non-fiction, theology, biography, Canadian history, children's to young adult, mystery and crime, romance, the paranormal, science fiction, and coffee table books.
“If it’s out there, we’ve probably got it,” she said. “We’ve got a great selection of Canadian authors and a lot of the authors too are right out of the southwest corner of Saskatchewan. So we carry pretty much all genres.”