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Daisy Chain’s budding community

How one woman is making her mark on the city’s literary scene
from booktruck to brick-and-mortar shop

Brandi Morprurgo at Daisy Chain Book Co. “We’re fostering books until their permanent family finds them,” she says.  (Theodora MacLeod)

By Theodora MacLeod

IT STARTED with a van. Or, as Brandi Morpurgo – founder, creator, and powerhouse behind Daisy Chain Book Co. – calls it, a booktruck, a bookstore on wheels that allowed her to take her passion for the written word to communities all over central Alberta.

Today, the booktruck has been replaced by two brick-and-mortar stores – one on Edmonton’s High Street, and the other south of the city, in Beaumont. But its legacy lives on, and the community created on the road continues to flourish. In many ways, Morpurgo could be considered an ambassador of books, a liaison between readers and the worlds in the pages.

“We’re fostering books until their permanent family finds them,” she says.

She started out stocking her booktruck with second-hand titles (many from her personal collection). She says she considers not only the environmental benefits of rehoming books, but the symbolic sharing of stories as well, to be the chains that link readers to one another through book sharing: The Daisy Chain.

Today her shelves are stocked with pre-owned and new copies, the former coming from community donations that earn readers discounts on their next read. If you donate a book, you get a break on the price of your next pre-owned book

Morpurgo is no stranger to the role of foster guardian. Before founding Daisy Chain, she was a social worker and foster parent. She and her husband had planned to adopt a toddler they had fostered for the first three years of the child’s life. But when the plan fell through, she abandoned social work to follow a longtime dream of paving her own way in the world of book sales.

The business has grown exponentially since she founded it in 2018, and has earned the admiration of readers around the globe  – after an atmospheric shot of the booktruck went viral.

The High Street location landed in the top three of Edmonton’s best bookstores as voted by readers of the Edmonton Journal and Sun in 2021, unusual for a new business owners.

“Our first year!” she says. “I didn’t once ask anyone to vote for us.”

But, Morpurgo says, it’s not about the accolades or praise; it’s about the books and the readers who love them.

“It’s for the readers,” she says when asked how she has coped with being the face of the store’s vibrant social media accounts. This is a sentiment that is echoed in every detail of her business.

Authenticity has been the lifeblood of Daisy Chain Book Co. from its inception.

‘Books are optimistic.
You can’t be arrogant with a book’

“Books are optimistic, and you cannot approach a book without curiosity, optimism, hope, and vulnerability,” Morpurgo says. “You can’t be arrogant with a book … We don’t know what the story is going to show us, or teach us, or let us think what we didn’t think before.”

The warm, vibrant Daisy Chain stores are designed to transport readers to a safe haven of literary wonder, she says. From the black-and-white checkerboard floor, to the yellow accents and walls, Daisy Chain Book Co. feels like the welcoming embrace of a kindred spirit. There is no detail left unaccounted for; even the music is carefully chosen by Morpurgo to create the perfect atmosphere, an eclectic soundtrack worthy of a Nora Ephron movie.

“I knew exactly what I wanted it to be,” she says about the stores’ esthetics and layout. “You have to learn to fight for things early.”

In a time when many people are questioning the boundaries of freedom of expression, book burnings are becoming almost common, and publishers are backing away from any hint of controversy, Morpurgo says she’s firm in her belief that all books are welcome.

“I’m not afraid of any books,” she says. “I’m not afraid of content. Every voice is valid, and I think that’s the beautiful thing about books.”

And yes, that includes even those dry history books that cause a collective cringe among some readers.

“Books are an incredible formula for conversation, for wisdom, and for seeing how our views have changed … We lose some of our humanity when we start putting those kinds of barriers [censorship] in place.

“Read things you disagree with, then talk to me about it.”

Morpurgo’s efforts to bring Edmonton book-lovers together has led to the establishment of several Daisy Chain book clubs at both locations, and most are at maximum capacity. It seems that, if you build it, they will come. A bookstore may not be a field of dreams, but for book enthusiasts, it is where dreams come true.

With checkerboard floors welcoming all who wander mentally and physically, and the playlist providing a soundtrack for the occasional impromptu dance, it looks as if Morpurgo has succeeded in her mission to connect Alberta readers.

And, she says, she’s just getting started.

  •  For more information on Brandi Morpurgo and the book stores, visit the Daisy Chain Book Co. website. 
  • You can also listen to Brandi’s podcast, The Bookshop Chronicles, on all major podcasting platforms. Here are a few samples.

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