The mom-and-pop second hand books and records shop finds a way to stay alive despite various adversity
In the early 90’s, Sean Madden, a young Concordia graduate, began buying books and records from local yard sales and auctions, eventually sparking his interest in selling them. As his hobbies pursued, his father — playwright Peter Madden — joined him, setting his literary passion ablaze.
“We often buy things from the community, and then it’s a nice process because it returns to the community. I always feel like I work really hard to keep Encore open because what we do here isn’t as much about selling as being a space for works of art to find other lives,” said Madden, the dedicated owner of Encore Books & Records.
The two would trade from all sorts of stores across town, namely S.W. Welch, The Word, and Odyssey. “Eventually we had so much stuff piled up, we were getting too good at it,” said Sean Madden.
“We stopped supplying other stores and looked for our own. It took us a year and a half to find this location. We lived in NDG, and we wanted something from NDG.” Thus, Encore Books & Records was opened in 1999 on Sherbrooke West and Harvard.
Madden was keen on finding unusual records from niche genres. “People were throwing out all kinds of things, and it’s always so fun to find somebody’s collection and learn about who they are, what they enjoy.”
Encore Books & Records has well over 100 genres of books, and over 40 genres of music on vinyl. However, running a second-hand bookstore on a busy street is no simple task.
“Our profit margins are fine, but it’s a lot of work and I think it’s difficult, because our customers are also our suppliers, and people aren’t used to selling things to us,” said Madden. However, the team is always looking for great finds, and people can make their own contributions in their own way and pick something up for themselves.
The owner disclosed that he was not planning on expanding the franchise, especially after how COVID-19 affected small retail businesses over the past couple of years.
“I hope Encore is here forever.”, said Caitlin Van Fossen, an Encore Books employee and a student at Concordia. “I think folks do love supporting local, and Sean likes to emphasise that we want to support the local community, unusual gems that you’ll never find elsewhere.”