Sunrise On The New Avenue

on Sunday, November 4, 2012
Naysayers and e-traitors, step aside! I have visited the latest kid on the block and can confidently assure you that that bricks and mortar book selling is alive, well and in very good hands thanks to Chris and his team at The Avenue Bookstore. Any tears you might still be shedding over the loss of the much-loved Sunflower can now be flicked away with glee thanks to the arrival of The Avenue's sister store in Elsternwick. Fans of the original Avenue will instantly feel at home - it's as if Chris took a shrink ray and transplanted the result into the somewhat smaller Glenhuntly Road space. Indeed, there is something surreal about walking around the site of a shop in which I practically used to live only to find it replaced by a midget replica of my other literary home. Initial headspin aside, I love what they've done with place!

I'm glad to see that The Avenue Bookstore Elsternwick has retained all the things that made Sunflower so great (including, but not limited to, the city's best Judaica section and some of the amazing staff). Add to that everything we know and love about The Avenue Bookstore Albert Park and we've all been gifted with one hell of a great store that, while small, still packs a serious literary punch.

It was a gutsy move on Chris's part, not only to expand his golden fiefdom but to do so on what amounts to the Melbourne Jewish community's ancient literary burial ground. Thankfully for all involved it has paid off. The Avenue Bookstore Elsternwick is a fresh, vibrant little shop sure to please old Sunflowers and new visitors alike. Moreover, it might coax a few of you e-tragics and Book Depositors away from your screens and into a good ol' fashioned bookstore. Don't resist the call. Your soul will thank you for it.


Sarah-Jane Feiglin said...

This seemed like a promising addition to the Elsternwick community, and as a bibliophile I could have bought thousands of books from this store over the next few years - HOWEVER, Chris Redfern and his staff do not like children. They have a section of the store devoted to children's literature, but when my 18 month old son merely touched books by the pay register a young woman had a meltdown and told him off. I was trying to purchase a book but the process was slow despite three staff members all hovering behind the counter. As I watched the woman chastise my child in shock the owner, Chris Redfern called out bitchily "Is that yours?!" whilst pointing at my son. He then demanded "Is that with you?!" waving his hand dismissively at my son. I was so offended at his rudeness in referring to my darling son as "that" I instantly picked up my son and told them to cancel the purchase. Chris then started carrying on that he and his staff had the right to tell people what to do in his store and that really it was good riddance.
We will never return to the store. I was only going there to support local business - the book I wanted to buy is twice as expensive there as it is on line. Independent bookstores cannot survive with this arrogant, anti-children attitude.

The Bookworm said...

Hmmm... I allowed this comment to be posted because I have a strong anti-censorship philosophy (hate speech being the exception) on this blog. However, I'm very surprised to read what you wrote because, in my experience, The Avenue (both stores) has always been VERY child-friendly and Chris is a really good guy who is helpful to customers. That said, assuming what you write is true (given that it is one side of the story and he has no right of reply here) everyone can have an off day and I stand by my absolute endorsement of The Avenue being in the holy trinity of Melbourne Independent bookstores. I loved Sunflower and I think The Avenue deserve our collective thanks for not only keeping the store a highly literary oasis for book lovers but also preserving the Jewish flavour out of respect for its history.

The Bookworm said...

Oops, left out that it is certainly regrettable (and bad form) if it played out as you say....

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