Like a good novel, The Yass Book Store gets off to a rough start

Joanna Hicks couldn’t find an empty store on Yass Main Street to open her bookstore, so she moved further afield to her family’s former B&B. Photo: Sally Hopman.

Joanna Hicks’ dream of opening her own boutique in Yass has all the makings of a great novel.The long wait for a store on the main street of the city to become available (it never has).

The first COVID-19 containment. Then the second on September 13.

But she was not to be put off. After all, aren’t bookstores full of drama?

Last weekend, Joanna finally opened The Yass Book Store for business. She had done a pop-up shop trial in August, but it mostly attracted family and friends, so she couldn’t wait to welcome the world.

Business was going well on the weekends. People came and it was a good start. But Monday at midnight, the city was again locked down.


READ ALSO: Online Shopping Helps Yass Valley Community Survive Lockdown


Joanna had to wait a while for this dream of opening a bookstore to come true. This is not just any old dream. The former civil servant and trained librarian wanted to give Yass something he hadn’t had in about 10 years: his own bookstore.

A place where people could meet, talk, hear about the latest publications, meet authors and other creative souls. It was also never going to be just another bookstore when it opened in the family’s old home, a former B&B called Minnie’s.

“I waited for a store to open up on Main Street, but that didn’t happen,” says Joanna.

So she chose to open the shop in the old B&B, still on the main street a little higher up the road towards the motorway.

The traditional little cottage is now The Yass Book Store, and it looks exactly what it is – a book lover’s home with books, stationery, prints and other rooms occupying most of the tables. and chairs inside. There are cookbooks in the kitchen, good bulky novels in the bedroom, and book walls in the living room with maps and pictures adorning the fireplace and most other flat surfaces.

Books in the kitchen at Yass Bookstore

Where else would you keep cookbooks other than in the kitchen? Photo: Sally Hopman.

Joanna has created a unique oasis in the old B&B, with each room decorated like a cozy country house, but all featuring books, prints, paper and maps all over the place.

Having books around her has always been a part of Joanna’s life.

“That’s what I wanted to create here,” she says. “Things like Kindles are good if you travel, but I think there are a lot of people like me who love having the physical book around them – books that you love so much that you want to read them again and Again.

“A book with a good story and good characters stays with you long after you finish it.

“I really think the concept will work in a place like Yass because there are so many creative people living here. It’s a wonderful niche area and I would love to show off what people are writing and doing here.

Joanna Hicks tidies up the library at Yass Bookstore

Joanna Hicks is adding the finishing touches to the shelves of what used to be the living room of her family’s former B&B and is now the Yass Bookstore. Photo: Sally Hopman.

This passion for reading and books didn’t happen overnight – she’s been with Joanna for as long as she can remember.

“I remember daddy read the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit when I was only eight or nine, ”she says. “I liked it. We even ended up calling our guinea pigs after certain characters.”

The opening of the Yass Bookstore is just the first part of Joanna’s story. She has already stocked books from local authors, but wants to expand that to include crafts, prints and stationery from local artists. She is also keen to organize readings and book launches, and to help promote skills associated with age-old occupations such as bookbinding.

This is, of course, the will of COVID-19. In the meantime, during confinement, Joanna has to be content with her news website and online shoppers.


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