As far as bookstores go, things might not get any more niche in Toronto than a store near Adelaide and University. Just on the outskirts of the Financial District sits Federal Publications, a small store dedicated exclusively to government publications, books and maps.
The shelves are a government geek's wet dream. There are books on building codes, tariffs, the criminal code, income tax and probate, wills and estate planning. There are maps of cottage country, popular fishing spots and roads all around Ontario. And while most of the items here are actually published by our friendly government, there's also the odd lighter reading like some books from the For Dummies series.
When I popped into the store earlier this week it wasn't because I needed a map for the back roads of Oxtongue Lake, but rather because curiosity got the better of me. I'd passed by this store countless times, and often wondered what it was all about. Now I know.
But because wandering through the bookstore didn't answer all my questions, I contacted the store's manager, Juliet, who filled me in on some of the missing details. Read my Q&A with her below:
Who is your typical customer?
I don't think we have a typical customer. Because we carry such a wide range of books and maps, our clients include business people, outdoor enthusiasts and tourists. Our customers are certainly not limited to those in the Financial District. Because we have such a wide range of hard-to-get products, many people find it worth their while to make the trip downtown.
What are some of you're most popular items?
It's a real mix. Some of the most popular items are: The Killarney Provincial Park map, the National Building Code, the Pocket Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations, the Canadian Weather Trivia calendar, and nautical charts of Georgian Bay.
Are there any items that the store carries that are exclusive to you or are very difficult to find elsewhere in the city?
We carry more topographic maps and nautical charts than anyone else in Toronto. We're the only place where you can buy Government of Canada publications, including the National Building Code. We also carry a number of legal books which are hard to find elsewhere.
Are there any unique advantages or challenges from running a bookstore located in the Financial District?
It's great that we're so convenient to the subway and two streetcar lines. However, parking can be a challenge for those driving to visit us.
Do you ever have any events at the store?
Unfortunately we don't. However, we do exhibit at the Toronto Boat Show, the Fall and Spring Cottage Life Shows, and the Toronto Sportsmen Show.