16 February 2023

Wagga's Gateway Books moves into the sunshine on Baylis Street

| Chris Roe
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Gateway Books

Louise Blanchard is enjoying Gateway Books’ sunlit new location on Baylis Street. Photo: Chris Roe.

Former primary school teacher Louise Blanchard loves books and she wants to share her passion for reading through the sunlit new premises of Wagga’s iconic Gateway Bookshop.

“I would love to create a sort of community space where people just come in to have a coffee and browse the books,” she says, sitting at a chair and table by the window overlooking Baylis Street’s southern end.

“It’s not all about coming in to buy something, I want it to be a place where people feel comfy just to come in and read and chat.”

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Gateway Books is a much-loved Wagga institution that has been serving the Riverina for 55 years.

Established by Anne Brassil in 1968, Fran and David Payne took over in 1987 and sold the business to Louise in June 2022.

“I first came across Gateway Bookshop as a young teacher in the area. It was the place to go to get teaching resources and children’s books to use in class,” she says.

“Fran and David built a vast collection and were able to advise teachers and suggest reading material.

“When I saw a few years ago that the business was for sale, I thought it would be my ideal job to work in a bookshop.”

Gateway Books

Gateway Books is now on the street at the entrance to Wagga’s Piazza. Photo: Chris Roe.

Originally tucked away in South Town Walk, Gateway Books recently moved up the street to the Piazza and a spacious new location with street frontage and windows along two sides.

While Louise and her husband Chris had not originally planned to move, the location proved too good to pass up.

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“We noticed it just walking along Baylis Street and imagined the books in the window, and really, that was the decision made,” she laughs.

Louise is proud to carry on Gateway’s tradition of specialising in children’s literature and supplying educational books to the region’s schools.

Gateway Books

Customers will soon be able to order drinks from The Caffeinated Co. Photo: Chris Roe.

Despite occasional delays with distributors, changing syllabus and competition from online discounters, Louise is adjusting to the life of a bookseller and sharing Gateway’s carefully curated collection.

“When serving customers with different queries I am usually able to find a selection of books that will meet their needs,” she says.

“I am grateful that many customers value shopping locally and are continuing to support Gateway.”

She adds that it’s important to encourage reading with children and to expose them to quality literature with rich vocabulary.

“Reading together with your child and modelling good reading practice is crucial as they become literate,” Louise says.

“And there’s just something about reading a tactile book, turning pages and going back and forwards and looking at pictures, there’s no comparison. I love seeing families coming in and browsing books together.

Gateway Books

Gateway Books specialises in supplying schools and children’s literature. Photo: Chris Roe.

Looking ahead, Louise has connected with next door’s Caffeinated Co. to supply coffee and other drinks, there are events on the cards and she’s hoping to develop education spaces at the back of the store.

“I would like to set up a space for teachers where they can meet, have a coffee, maybe do a bit of work or talk about what’s going on at school, advise each other and share stories,” she says.

“People have been very positive about the new premises and I am enjoying working in this open, sunlit space.”

You can call into the new location in Wagga’s Piazza on Baylis Street or check them out online.

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Does anyone know how to contact this book store? I’ve ordered a book online but unfortunately cannot get on to anyone to check my pending order😫

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