Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Samara Walbohm, co-owner of Type Books, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Type is an independent shop for book lovers. We have three locations in Toronto, with each store honouring and connecting to their specific neighbourhoods. The best part about Type is being able to create a sense of belonging and community inspired by reading, a space that we remembered from our own local bookstores growing up. Our customers are so diverse, so supportive, and so inspiring. We even have customers who first came through our doors as babies in our storytime mornings or who participated in our literacy program called Word Play. It is amazing to see the relationships that have formed between our longstanding staff and our devoted customers. We really feel a part of our neighbourhoods.

Tell us about yourself

Joanne Saul and I met doing our doctorates in Literature at the University of Toronto. In 2005, we felt that independent bookstores were disappearing from our cultural landscapes. We spent years in the stacks of Robarts Library. The shelving in all of our stores is an homage to Robarts. We wanted to surround ourselves with books that had meaning for us. We wanted to build back community and stores for book lovers.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

We are so proud to have been able to create a loved and loving store that is celebrating a sweet sixteen this year. That we are still here and thriving, even through a pandemic, is a daily reminder that we are loved, doing some things right and that we are a vital part of our communities. It is a very special feeling to think how far we have come from the 13th floor at Robarts. Just seeing customers with our books in their hands who are pleased to support us. We love being able to surprise and inspire readers. I particularly love being on a plane or out of town and seeing someone with a Type tote bag or a Type bookmark.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

There isn't really one thing, but if there is one, it's the unexpected. One day a flood, one day, a squirrel living in the store (and receiving 100 texts a day saying "did you know you have a squirrel in your window?"), smashed windows, broken locks, and, well, the pandemic. We had to learn to know a little bit about everything and to be flexible.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be brave and trust your gut. People thought we were crazy to open an independent bookstore when the big chains were taking over, but, perhaps with a bit of naivete, we just jumped on it.
  2. Location-Location-Location!
  3. Find the right people to work with. Our staff are the most incredible people we know. We trust them intensely. We are collaborators on almost everything. They are our family. This is the most important thing.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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