• Fri. Sep 23rd, 2022

Book it: Hintonburg store owner sees travel guide sales surge as COVID restrictions ease

ByKeith M. Jones

Apr 1, 2022

According to Brad Green, the maps at his Hintonburg store point the way to a resurgence in travel.

When the pandemic hit about two years ago, Green’s shop, World of Maps on Wellington Street West, was forced to close its doors to customers.

Fortunately, this did not completely stop the company. Green had already moved some of her sales online and was therefore able to continue working during the shutdowns.

“We’ve had an online presence for many years – years before the pandemic – so the website is an important place to reach our customers who are all over the world,” he said.

Yet Green had to change the types of merchandise he sold.

“Of course COVID meant no customers were traveling overseas,” he explained. “We had to completely redo the products we offered in stores because no one was going to Mexico or anywhere else.”

Green says that while sales of travel books have declined, other fiction and non-fiction titles have grown in popularity.

Pedestrian traffic on the rise

“The bookstore has become more of an independent general bookstore, which we are and remain,” he said. “It has become an important part. We’re like a neighborhood bookstore – we have access to six million printed books. So not just maps, but puzzles, flags and different products. »

Travel in the province hasn’t stopped, Green added, with people visiting provincial parks and looking for items such as topographic maps, navigational maps and park guides.

Now that restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 have eased, tourism is starting to take off. The Green store has seen an increase in foot traffic, with customers planning trips to other parts of Canada and overseas.

“The books that nobody was buying during the COVID closures, well today we’re selling guides to the south of France and to Ireland, Scotland and Portugal,” he said. declared.

Karen Taafe, Product Development Manager, Travel at CAA North and Eastern Ontario, tells the same story.

“Trends we’re seeing right now include all-inclusive (trips) down south due to the weather in Ottawa,” she said in a recent interview. “But beyond the immediate March, Europe is really very popular. We are really a bit surprised.

Destinations booked include France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece, she said.

At World of Maps, flag sales also increased. Popular flags include the Canadian flag – especially since the Canadian men’s soccer team qualified for the World Cup – and the Ukrainian flag.

“We donated $2,500 to the Red Cross for Ukraine. It happened because we sell these flags, and then a customer said, “You should be collecting donations,” Green said. “So we put a collection box there and people put money in it or paid with a credit card and we put the money in the box.”

A third of the $2,500 raised came from customers and the rest came from the store itself.