Meet The Book Man: A Family Tradition Where Passion for Books Builds Community

Amber Price owns The Book Man, a bookstore with two locations in Chilliwack and Abbotsford. SBBC connected with Amber to learn more about her family bookstore and how it’s been an integral part of the community over the last 33 years and will continue to grow in the future.

Books as Family Business

The Book Man has been in operation for more than three decades. Amber’s father used to work as a nurse in the children’s ward at Chilliwack General Hospital before leaving that career and purchasing a small independent bookstore.

Amber began working with her father at the bookstore when she was just 12 years old and joined him full-time by the time she turned 20. “The business was passed down to me the same year I opened our Abbotsford branch over 13 years ago,” said Amber.

“The Book Man is a family tradition for many, with clients who came here with their grandparents now returning with children of their own,” said Amber. “These experiences knit us together, and root us to the places that we live.”

Community and Connection

A shopper browses books inside The Book Man bookstore

The Fraser Valley has been a fertile ground for the growth of The Book Man. “The evidence of our growth is in our staff’s expansion,” said Amber.

When clients choose to support LGBTQ2+-owned small businesses like The Book Man, they are directly supporting local jobs. When Amber first joined her father as Manager of The Book Man, they had under five staff, and now they have over 20.

“Chilliwack and Abbotsford are such a great mix of being growing cities while not losing that small-town feeling,” said Amber. “It’s easy to feel connected at both of our branches and begin to see familiar faces in the community and our business.”

Value to Customers and Community

The Book Man are places created by book lovers for book lovers. “Our passion for all things ‘book’ truly shines through,” said Amber. Friendly bookstore staff work hard to create cozy, organized atmospheres where customers are invited to discover treasures at every turn.

“Having the opportunity to chat with staff, to be in community spaces, to meet other people with shared interests, and to feel at home is a powerful gift that brick-and-mortar businesses provide,” said Amber.

“In an age where awareness around the importance of mental health is growing, I believe that investing in connection is imperative to building strong, resilient and supportive communities,” she said.

How The Book Man Supports Community

Amber believes that one of the best things about having a small business is the opportunity to reinvest in the local economy, support local charities, and champion diversity and inclusion.

One of the ways The Book Man supports its community is by offering bursaries at local high schools for the past 17 years.  Grade 12 applicants in Chilliwack who share their love for reading in the form of an essay, short story, or poem can receive a $250 gift certificate.  They also do fundraisers for almost a dozen community-based not-for-profits and literacy and art organizations.

Ongoing Support for Small Businesses

In the future, Amber hopes that The Book Man can continue to operate as safe and accessible spaces for all. “Accessibility is a huge concern for me as a business owner,” said Amber. “Having increased Provincial grants for improving accessibility in businesses would be so helpful,” she said.

The Book Man installed two wheelchair-accessible doors for its branches, and the cost was over $12,000 – far more than a Workplace Accessibility Grant could cover. In addition to investing in accessibility,  one thing that Amber said was a “game changer” was having custom software built for her business.

“It enabled us to systematize so much of what we do and make it easier for newer staff to be excellent at their jobs much more quickly,” said Amber.

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