One of downtown Penticton's most-established businessmen has died.
Bruce Stevenson, owner of The Book Shop, died Saturday morning at Penticton Regional Hospital after a battle with cancer. He was 77.
A former high school teacher, he quit his job in 1974 and opened a used bookstore in Penticton, first on Martin Street (as Valley Books and Things) and then at 242 Main Street for the past 27 years. At one point in the early years, his family operated three small stores.
Over the years, The Book Shop became renowned as one of the top used book stores in Western Canada, remarkable for being located in a city the size of Penticton. There are 80,000 titles on display (plus movie rentals of Canadian and independent films), along with another 80,000 books in storage.
In an interview with The Herald earlier this month when he announced his retirement, Stevenson reflected on his many years in business.
“The biggest enjoyment is the books and the people,” he said “I like the people who work for me. It’s a fun place to go. But, I like the product. I probably like seeking the books more than selling them, but I have to sell some or else I can’t continue to seek them.”
The Book Shop will continue under the direction of his wife, children, and manger Roz Campigotto, who has been with the Stevensons for more than 30 years.
Mayor John Vassilaki said the shop and its occupants were key information sources.
“In the days before the internet, you either visited the library or you went to Bruce’s bookstore. He sold books for everyone and all interests. Bruce was an incredible asset to Penticton and a valued contributor of ideas,” Vassilaki said in a statement.
“Over the years I’ve met with him and his wife many times to discuss opportunities for improving our downtown and bringing vibrancy back.”
Former mayor Andrew Jakubeit said Stevenson’s death marks the end of an era for downtown Penticton.
“We’ve owned the Grooveyard for over 29 years always downtown and the past 15 years across the street from the Bookshop. Bruce and the Bookshop are icons of the downtown, it was sad to hear about his passing,” Jakubeit, a former president of the Downtown Penticton Association, said in a statement.
“Bruce was a customer and someone you’d see throughout the downtown core, he was a familiar face that will be missed.”
At Stevenson's request, there will not be a memorial service or funeral.
This story was updated to add comments from John Vassilaki and Andrew Jakubeit