On Queen St. in Fredericton’s downtown sits a humble used bookstore called Owl’s Nest. While it might not look too flashy on the outside, a beautiful mess of paperbacks, hardcovers and more greet you as you enter the store.
I was originally surprised that a lot of St. Thomas students and Frederictonians didn’t know this hidden gem existed, especially since it’s been a staple of the downtown area since 1991. It originally resided on Regent Street, and then moved to its bigger location on Queen.
And holy hell, does it house a lot of books.
“Originally it was 300,000, but now we’re sitting at about 250,000,” said Katee Croft, who works at the store and granddaughter of its original owner.
As you enter the store, you see books to your left, right, up, down and centre. Miniature figurines of owls are around every nook and cranny of the store with signs above each shelf signalling where you can find everything from classic paperbacks to erotica novels.
“It’s sort of a mess, there’s everything everywhere,” Croft said. “There’s order, but an organized chaos to it. Some people find it comforting and some find it overbearing. I like it, it’s like a nest.”
It also has its own familiar used book smell, which you won’t get anywhere else.
“People like the general charm of it. Again with that organized chaos, the smell of old books. Some people walk in here and say ‘oh it smells so great!’” she said.
After you been there to get a whiff of the books yourself, you’ll feel bad when a big-name bookstore pops in a city’s downtown area.
“I think it’s something you don’t see much of anymore, these massive used bookstores,” Croft said.
With two floors of madness, the store also comes with its quirks. More specifically, ghosts and spooked puppers.
“[There’s sometimes] weird sounds in the night. We will just be here after close and I’ve experienced books flying off of shelves,” she said.
“We used to have a pug that would come in here. She would go into corners and start barking at the walls which was weird.”
And you might just get lost in the store if you venture too far, but you’re not the only one.
“Old couples come in and lose each other. They say ‘have you seen this person?’” Croft said. “They chase each other around shelves trying to find each other.”
If you’ve passed by the Owl’s Nest on your way to get coffee downtown and have never thought to check it out, the fall season is a perfect time to grab a loved one and explore it. You might just find a piece of hidden treasure too.
“I once found a $20 bill in a book, a really old one,” Croft said. “A guy that used to work here found his parent’s wedding photo in one of the books, so that was really cool.”
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