Iron Dog Books marks its territory in a storefront on East Hastings

Owners Cliff and Hilary Atlea take on a whole new adventure with move from truck to store.

Photo: Iron Dog Bookstore Website

By Yelin Gemma Lee, Peak Associate

Many of us have seen the charming Iron Dog Books truck parked up at SFU’s Burnaby campus near the bus loop, which serves as an affordable haven for all bookish students looking for an impromptu literary escape. While this book truck was beloved, it has now left its semi-permanent parked spot at SFU.

Don’t start grieving yet, because, as of the beginning of December, a permanent store for Iron Dog Books has officially opened at 2671 E Hastings. The location is fairly convenient for students: just a quick zip on the 95, nestled across from the VPL Hastings branch and neighbours to some alluring local shops and eateries like What’s Up? Hot Dog! and Laksa King.

Walking into the bookstore, the first thing I noticed is the spaciousness of the room and a warm, calming aura washing over my fatigued body. The instant feeling I got was relief that they were playing coffee table jazz instead of subjecting me to Christmas songs (it is OVER damnit) or — God forbid — Shawn Mendes. I felt heart eyes as I noticed the meticulously organized and clearly labeled shelves and displays that made books easy to find.

The interior concept was made up entirely of mixed wood, which I thought was a bit of a parallel to how Iron Dog books mixed in new and used books throughout the shelves. None of the wooden furnishings were quite alike; it ranged from walnut to beige, old and rough to new and freshly sanded. From the ceiling-high shelves lining the walls like a cozy living room to the perfect little stacked crates holding overstock beneath the tables, I could tell how much heart was being put into the launch of this store. 

The store was divided into three different sections: fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books. There were endearing and useful “we recommend” displays for cultural studies and biographies, which boasted the staff’s fantastic radical taste. Unlike the rather tight space of the book truck, the store had lots of walking room and almost seemed too spacious — although, the display of notebooks and a large circular rack of book inspired shirts by Out of Print in the main isle helped fill it up. The sci-fi section was looking especially sparse and outdated, but I simply dismissed this as part of the beginning warm-up stages of a bookstore fully becoming itself. Seeing the store in this building state of endless potential and hearing boxes of books being opened in the back room was magical and made my bookish little heart beat faster. 

Warning: The affordable pricing of the books and lovely ambiance at this store will make it very difficult to leave without an armful of new books and in a much brighter mood than when you entered. Come prepared to be delighted.