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A trove of used books awaits at Shelf Life in Kentville

Heather Killen’s new store for used books, Shelf Life, will open its doors in Kentville within the next two weeks.
Heather Killen’s new store for used books, Shelf Life, will open its doors in Kentville within the next two weeks. - Sara Ericsson
KENTVILLE, N.S. —

Heather Killen wanted to do something fun with her own shelf life, so she opened a used bookstore named after it.

She’d been contemplating what to do in retirement and was speaking with her friend, Jonathan Griffin, owner of Blue Griffin Books in Middleton, who suggested opening a used bookstore.

The tip could not have come at a better time, because it reminded Killen of her own musings, and inspired the perfect name for the shop – Shelf Life.

“I didn’t want to just retire. I wanted to do something, but something I enjoyed. And he said, ‘why don’t you open a bookstore?’ And it just suddenly made sense,” says Killen.

Her friend also knew how to get Killen going on her bookstore-building journey. It started with purchasing a storage locker full of inventory from a Prince Edward Island bookstore that closed.

Heather Killen loves nothing more than to see a customer find their new used book, but she admits that parting with some books can be hard. She says selling her copies of Nancy Drew mysteries and her collection of vintage fairytales will be hard, but worth it.
Heather Killen loves nothing more than to see a customer find their new used book, but she admits that parting with some books can be hard. She says selling her copies of Nancy Drew mysteries and her collection of vintage fairytales will be hard, but worth it.

Killen bought the books and watched as the 27-foot trailer arrived on Easter weekend 2017. She spent the following months sorting her new collection and opened her first location in Berwick, but ultimately felt a different space was needed to better fit her book collection.

Since her initial plan was to open in Kentville, she knew another move was in order when commercial space at 337 Main Street freed up. 

“It just felt right to come back to Kentville. I like the feel of it here,” she says, adding that many of her customers are from Halifax, Windsor and Kentville.

Killen has a long love affair with used bookstores herself, and remembers frequenting several in Dartmouth and Halifax as a young adult.

She says the magic of wondering which books each store might hold was a gripping feeling for her.

She hopes others feel the same when they visit any used bookstore in the Annapolis Valley.

Heather Killen says the name came to her when she was thinking of her own shelf life, and what to do to prolong it.
Heather Killen says the name came to her when she was thinking of her own shelf life, and what to do to prolong it.

“There’s a serendipity in it. You never know what you’re going to find because it’s a treasure hunt,” she says.

Killen says the hardest part of selling her books is letting go of favourite copies, including her collections of Nancy Drew mysteries and vintage fairytale stories.

But she knows it’s worth it, because someone else will get to read that story.

“There’s nothing better than sharing a good read,” she says.

Shelf Life is now open and will host a grand opening later this spring. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/Shelfiesbooks/.

Sara.Ericsson@kingscountynews.ca

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