The renewal of Riverbend Books, the sister bookshop of Avid Reader, is a heart-warming story of friendship, bookish camaraderie, and literary adventure in Bulimba.

When the founder and owner of Riverbend Books, Suzy Wilson, decided she could no longer keep her beloved Bulimba bookshop going, Avid Readers’ Fiona Stager and Kevin Guy stepped into the breach.

“Suzy Wilson and I have been book selling allies and close friends for 26 years. As soon as both of our shops opened, we became very good friends. We’ve always shared a lot about how our businesses run, told each other things that do and don’t work. We’ve been close.”

“I got a phone call from her to say that she needed to go for a walk and tell me something.”

Kevin Guy and Fiona Stage of Riverbend Books, Bulimba.

This was sad news for Suzy. She told Fiona that after selling the Riverbend Books building and taking 18 months trying to find a new location, she realised that it was too big a struggle to relocate the shop.

“So, we had a conversation. I thought we were just taking her shelves and her stock, but it transpired that she and her husband Ralph wanted us to take over Riverbend.”

Fiona said that a suitable new location came up but would have been too small to keep Riverbend viable on its own. With two established bookshops in West End, Fiona and Kevin have the economies of scale to support a third shop in Bulimba.

“It’s a great honour. It’s a big responsibility. Suzy is a remarkable bookseller. Riverbend has a huge legacy in the community, and we just want to pay tribute to that and make sure we do a good job of it.”

“We became the new owners on 1 September. The fit-out went really well. It looks like the shelving was purpose built for that space but it came out of the original Bookshop and is 26 years old.”

Local book lovers in Bulimba are grateful that Fiona and Kevin were able to step in and take on Riverbend.

“A lot of people know that Suzy and I are good friends. So, they are happy with that. The book clubs are staying, and the schools are happy we’re keeping their standing orders going.”

Fiona said Riverbend and Avid already share customers, and she would love West End locals to make the trip to Bulimba to visit them there.

“I’m really enjoying exploring Bulimba. It has a high street like West End and a lot more ice cream shops, so for people who love gelati, it’s a great place to go. I love the park, and there’s really good Vietnamese food. We’re really looking forward to getting into the community.”

“And it’s very different to Avid, and that’s why Suzy and I have always been such good friends because we weren’t competing.”

Shoppers at Riverbend Books, Bulimba.

Westenders have several options for getting to Riverbend. There’s the leisurely trip on the City Cat, or for a quicker journey, you can take either the No. 60 Glider or the 199 Bus, which both terminate close to the Tenerife Ferry terminal – you can then take a cross-river Kitty Kat or the City Cat across to Bulimba.

Bulimba has a cinema so you could make a day of it. A trip to the bookshop, a bite to eat at one of the eateries and then on to watch a movie. Or get your book and take it to the local park to read. Whatever you decide, its worth the trip.

Riverbend is more than a bookshop; it’s a new chapter in the saga of two book-loving friends and their passion for the written word.