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Dana Geyer in Conversation

June 5, 2023

Dana Geyer, the Book Lady, in her store

By Sophie Kaloudas

As a girl, Dana Geyer knew she loved books, and that she loved to help her friends. Books can be really inspiring, and she found that they can change your life. As a youngster, Dana spent countless hours reading, and finding the next great book. Literature was always a huge part of her life, and as she spent her summers at a family cottage on Cameron Lake, she imagined that one day she might own Fenelon Falls’ bookstore. It was a dream come true when Dana became ‘the Book Lady.’

Dana’s love for reading started early on. She grew up in Newmarket, but her family had a cottage on Cameron Lake, so she spent her summers in Fenelon Falls. At the cottage, there was no television, so she spent all summer long reading. Dana used to visit the public library and a used book store on Colborne Street to get as many good books as she could find. She also visited a small store on Market Street called Bob Burns Books, without imagining that one day she would eventually buy the store.

Throughout school, Dana’s favourite subject was English, and she was “always focused on books.” Dana went on to study English in university, and then completed a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Sciences. After that, she moved to Calgary where she worked in publishing. Dana continued to visit Fenelon Falls when she could, as she thought about purchasing the bookstore in Fenelon Falls.

When Bob Burns Books was advertised for sale, Dana was still living in Calgary, but her mom contacted her. Dana travelled from Calgary to look at the store, and then put in an offer. “Real Estate is a process to go through,” Dana remarked, but on Thanksgiving 2016, Dana realized her dream of owning a bookstore.

After the sale closed, Dana changed the lighting in the store and made small organizational changes to help her customers find the just the right book. She decided on the name for the store ‘The Book Lady,’ because her brother had recognized her love of reading and joked that she would become a crazy book lady. One of her friends out west, who worked in graphic design, created her logo.

By April, 2016, ‘The Book Lady,’ opened its doors for the first time. “The community response was very positive,” Dana said. “Old and new customers alike came in to visit the store. Someone arrived with a trailer full of cookbooks to donate. “There were so many cookbooks and that was only the first trailer load, Dana laughed. “I kept quite a few of them.” Dana made many friends as people came in to meet her and talk to her about books.

In her time owning and running the bookstore, Dana has kept the original space the same and changed the book inventory she carries. “It is nice to have control of what I have in stock,” Dana says. She maintains a wide variety of titles, Fiction, Non Fiction, Canadian Literature, Canadian History and many more. She stocks puzzles and games which have sold well. Dana also sells notebooks and notecards, which is an area Dana would like to bring more options in for customers. When asked what makes the bookstore unique, Dana says, “The Turtle, Myrt.” Myrt was originally her husband’s turtle and has been a curiosity at the store since early 2019, “people really love the Turtle.” Her dog Rebel also visits the store, eagerly greeting any visitors that come in.

In addition to running The Book Lady, Dana is involved in her community as well. When she first came to town, Dana joined the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce in the role of Communications Director and gave a makeover to the Community Newsletter. She stepped back for a little while to take some time for herself and had a baby, but she has recently rejoined the Chamber in a liaison role between the Chamber Board and the Santa Day Committee. Dana loves local events, (her favourites are Santa Day and Moonlight Madness) and is eager for her business to participate in them. “Fenelon has a great community of small businesses, and it is a great way to meet people. Volunteering is a great way to benefit the community as well as my small business.”

The pandemic was a difficult time for everyone, including Dana. “I really missed being able to talk to people about books and having the store open,” she said. Luckily, Dana was able to launch a curbside pickup option, as well as an online website for people to browse so she could keep the store running.

Dana loves to recommend and talk about books with anyone who pops in for a visit. “I think it is better to read something rather than nothing at all,” Dana observes. “I like to ask people questions about what they are interested in, as well as favourite movies and books to help recommend books.” For Dana, it is hard to narrow down a favourite book. She likes to read Literary Fiction, as well as fiction by Canadian Authors, and the novels shortlisted for the Giller Prize. (A popular annual literary award given to Canadian authors.) One of her favourite novels from last year was ‘Sea of Tranquility,’ by Emily St. John Mandel. Apart from reading, Dana also likes to knit and cook.

Recently, Dana has received many new additions for the bookstore including Canadian & Ontario history books, a copy of ‘Where the Crawdad’s Sing,’ and a lot of new novels for the Children’s Section. There are still more changes that she would like to make to the store, such as making a more exciting Kid’s section with furniture, and a Vintage and Rare Antiquarian Books Section. “I would need to learn more about that,” Dana says. “What drives me is finding books for people who aren’t readers because there is a book out there for everyone.”

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