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About Gold Rush Bookstore

Congratulations, Gold Rush Bookstore on winning $5,000 to boost their small business! What makes Gold Rush Bookstore unique is that it is a wonderful place to stop if you're looking for a little local history or the latest best-seller. Gold Rush Bookstore provides the community with a much-needed cultural gathering place for locals and visitors alike.

We were overwhelmed with all the amazing BC-based businesses who entered the contest. Our province is such a small business powerhouse and we are proud to support BC’s amazing entrepreneurs and their communities!


Small Business Big Wins - Gold Rush Bookstore

When Michelle LD Fairbanks first opened Gold Rush Bookstore in downtown Rossland, BC, the city had been without a book vendor for over two years. A Rossland resident for 25 years, Michelle decided that the city needed a new spot for residents to relax, socialize and follow local authors. So, she turned to the community for an extra push to make her dream happen. What began with her putting out a call to locals for used books has since become a community hub in the eastern BC town.

Home to just over 4,000 people, Rossland was once a mining destination during the gold boom of the early 1900s, which is how it got the nickname "The Golden City". From those boisterous beginnings, the city has since settled into a quaint and peaceful atmosphere for its residents. Rossland still has plenty of visitors though and for anyone looking for a taste of local history, Gold Rush Bookstore is often a frequent stop.

Not only does Michelle keep the shop well stocked with local authors and books retelling stories of old, but her devotion and passion for the community speaks for itself. During local events like Rossland's "Golden City Days", she gives visitors a bit of theatrical whimsy about how the town used to be. Getting into character and dressing up as people from the town's early days, she often greets patrons as Prospector Sam, a historic gold miner, or the Golden City Bookstore Lady, a belle from a bygone era. It's an engaging and fun way for visitors to learn about the history and character of the town.

It's that passion that has sustained Gold Rush through many hurdles since opening in 2016. A pandemic, forest fires, staff shortages and a lacklustre ski season that meant far fewer tourists were all in the cards for Michelle and her family. But with each of these setbacks, Fairbank's resilience shone through. To pivot during the pandemic, Gold Rush began to diversify its business model to include an online shop and offer more than just books, like games and puzzles. Then, in 2022, the store added a take-out window with an outdoor seating area, where people could enjoy ice cream from the in-store parlour, aptly titled “Fool's Gold Ice Cream”.

Those steps forward ensured stability through a tumultuous few years for Gold Rush, but even with those in place, it's clear that the foundation that keeps the small business alive is its status as a pillar of the community. While business from tourists is always welcomed, it is the support from locals that Michelle calls her "bread and butter." One of the ways Michelle gives back is through contributing a scholarship to local high schools. Called a “Toonie Scholarship”, the store sells various books at $2, with the proceeds going directly towards students' post-secondary education. In addition to the scholarships, the store itself has become a safe place for teens in the area, offering them a place to meet and socialize over coffee. Gold Rush even offers local youth the chance to have their first job stocking shelves or making coffee for guests.

Not to be outdone, Michelle is also the chairperson for The Rossland Heritage Commission, an organization that educates locals and visitors about the importance of preserving the heritage from the gold rush days, which includes taking care of local landmarks and heritage buildings. It's a fitting role for Michelle as Gold Rush is housed in a heritage building that was first built in 1914 and was originally a livery.

The story of Gold Rush Bookstore is one of the cyclical nature of a small community business. Fairbanks was supported by her friends and neighbours in beginning this journey and now she returns the gesture by focusing her efforts on giving back to the community. So, the next time you pass through Rossland, BC, be sure to stop by Gold Rush Bookstore for a coffee, a story and a look at how a small community thrives with people depend on one another.

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