Mixed Media & King Street West Books - Interview with Dave Kuruc
The Westdale Village neighbourhood is home to one of Hamilton’s more noteworthy businesses. Once the home of the esteemed Bryan Prince Bookseller, the retail space at 1060 King St. West is now the home of Mixed Media and King St. West Books. But what makes this relatively new business a success story that you need visit? I asked owner, Dave Kuruc, about what has come before and what is happening now at his space.
Stephen Near: Can you tell a little bit about the history of this space and how you came to set-up shop here?
Dave Kuruc: 1060 King St. W. has been home to a bookshop since 1989. The well regarded and remembered Bryan Prince Bookseller plied their trade here until March 2018. It's always been a community friendly space to discover books and authors and it was one of the reasons we decided to move Mixed Media here and open King W. Books in Aug. 2018. Generations of Hamiltonians have walked through this door seeking magic in the form of stories and creativity. It's a real honour being able to continue that tradition.
Stephen Near: Your old James St. North location was iconic. How has it been re-establishing the store in this new location?
Dave Kuruc: Our time on James St. North lasted from 2005 to 2018. We were located in a beautiful, century-old storefront that was always in the middle of the action - welcoming crowds on those second Fridays and establishing ourselves as an unique Hamilton destination. For many in Hamilton we will always be linked to that special place and time. It's never easy to move but we feel like it was the right time to try something new.
Stephen Near: Why the addition of a dedicated bookstore as part of the retail footprint of the Mixed Media space?
Dave Kuruc: We didn't intend to open a book shop but when a space like this comes up - it made sense to us to revive it. We always sold books on James - but mainly focused on art, kids and specialty non-fiction titles. It was always a nice mix that complemented our selection of art supplies, stationery and wall art. When we first opened - we had many customers who commented on the two stores being side by side and how they play off each other. We think books and art are an inspiring combination!
Stephen Near: During the pandemic, many retailers took a big hit. How has the post-pandemic been for your business?
Dave Kuruc: We were able to get online very quickly. By the end of March 2020, our customers could browse our website, place an order and come by and pick it up or have us deliver it. Taking our business from bricks and mortar to digital definitely kept us going but it was a lot of work for our small team. We were down to just the two of us doing it all while also helping our son with his remote online schooling. We've come a long way since those early pandemic days; it feels like a different business than the one we had before. One of our strengths is definitely the physical experience of exploring the books and being inspired to create art. Conversations and community are a big part of our day-to-day here. Being in Westdale Village, and so close to McMaster, means we have many students who make us a daily destination. We regularly hear how lovely it is to come and experience a real bookshop.
Stephen Near: What are you looking forward to in the New Year as a Hamilton business owner?
Dave Kuruc: Just having hosted two live in-person author events in February has definitely inspired us. It's always great when you get 25-30 people gathered to listen to words being read - that's an experience that many have missed. We'd like to host some more events and are figuring out what that looks like. So much for us changes as the seasons do. We get busier in the spring and early summer as more people are out and about. We live and work in a wonderful setting and look forward to seeing some familiar faces and meeting some new ones too!