Lando Klassen (right) is retiring as owner of the House of James bookostore and coffeehouse in Abbotsford. The new owner is Pierre Dery. (Submitted photo)

Lando Klassen (right) is retiring as owner of the House of James bookostore and coffeehouse in Abbotsford. The new owner is Pierre Dery. (Submitted photo)

New owner for House of James bookstore in Abbotsford

Lando Klassen retires after almost 50 years; Pierre Dery takes over

The House of James bookstore and coffeehouse in Abbotsford has a new owner.

Lando Klassen is retiring, and Pierre Dery, assistant manager for over 30 years, is buying the store.

The pair said this is a “positive event” and “the dynamic, knowledgeable and customer-oriented staff will keep the House of James growing and changing.”

“I’m excited about the future. I have a great team and look forward to continuing the House of James legacy,” Dery said.

The House of James bookstore began in Mission in 1973 – the evolution of a coffeehouse drop-in centre that was birthed in July 1970.

The store began in a small space about 12-by-50 feet with a residence in the back where the 19-year-old Klassen lived.

A move to a much larger location in Mission occurred in 1976, followed by the move to Little Oak Mall in Abbotsford in 1983.

The store opened at its current location on Emerson Street in May 1997, with more than 80 customers, family and staff volunteering.

The House of James expanded in 2008, adding two storeys to make room for a full-service coffeehouse/entertainment venue and a larger used-book department.

Klassen said the overwhelming response from customers far and wide helped the business weather the storms of COVID-19, competitive online suppliers and an 85 per cent decline in music sales.

House of James was named 2000 Store of the Year by the Christian Booksellers’ Canadian chapter and 2001 Store of the Year for Western Canada by the Christian Booksellers Association. It also received a 2013 Lifetime Industry Achievement Award from Gospel Music Association Canada, the only time a retailer has received the award.

“The House of James bookstore and coffeehouse has proven to be adaptable and the future looks strong. We are grateful to our amazing staff and customers and believe they will continue to make this place a community hub,” Klassen said.

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