Staff come and go, but certain figures become a fixture. For many customers, Niki Ward was a fixture of Vic Books Kelburn; she managed the bookshop for the last five years and was a familiar face and friend for many on the Kelburn Campus. In her five years with Vic Books she saw the move from the Student Union Building to the current premises on Kelburn Parade, a growth in the giftware and general books side to Vic Books, and instigated the weekly Saturday Storytime sessions.
Niki is a bookseller through and through, and when we learnt that she was leaving to open her own shop, it seemed the most natural progression. Everyone was excited to see what this next chapter had in store for her. Wellington has seen too many bookshops closing their doors, from Parsons, to Quilters; bookshops make the fabric of a city, and the fabric of Wellington was fading. Seeing a new bookstore open it’s doors is a testament to Niki, and the strength of the book industry.
The specialty bookshop and cafe is named ‘ekor’, Swedish for squirrel, because of her connection to Sweden through her partner Lars and their little boy Bjorn. Years ago, Niki fell in love with Edward Hart’s taxidermied boxing squirrels, (with their little 1900s boxing trousers how could you not?) and she began to build an affinity with the characters of squirrels.
The children’s section is especially wonderful, with a play nook filled with toys and books and little chairs. Kids are encouraged to play and explore within the bookshop, and let their imagination grow. There is also an excellent mural by the talented Phoebe Morris. Showing the adventures of a squirrel, Phoebe took inspiration from Tove Jansson’s work and out of her own imagining.
Ekor’s café is run by the talented barista, George Tagg. The cafe uses local and sustainable products, with our good friends Peoples Coffee supplying their fresh roasts, Zany Zeus milk, and Leeds Street Bakery goods.
In fitting out the store Niki saw potential in all that had come before, so she sourced & re-purposed furniture from Wellington establishments, such as Kirkaldie & Stains. In doing so, Niki has given the place a grounded atmosphere. Ekor feels like it was never not there.
“Ekor believes in planting solid roots and aging happily with the local community” – Niki Ward.
Ekore Bookshop Cafe, 17B College Street. Open Tuesday to Sunday.