I’ve been an avid and ardent reader for as long as I can remember, but it was while in my final year of high school that my love for literature was really ignited. A friend of mine – who later went on to become a playwright – would recommend me books such as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, and Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead; both of which had a huge influence on my reading life from there on in; and truly opened my eyes to a whole different world of books.
I later went on to work at a bookshop in Glebe, where I would meet Katerina; and together we came up with the idea of Gertrude & Alice, never imagining that soon after our collective dream would swiftly become a reality.
Katerina had previously run a café, and was heavily inspired and influenced by her travels around the world; from Vienneese coffee houses, to Moroccan tearooms and Turkish antiquarian bookshops – and together, we birthed the idea of Gertrude & Alice.
We were delighted by bookshops like Shakespeare & Company and wanted to create a literary haven where thespians, lovers of literature and fans of good food could congregate under one roof.
We stockpiled 40,000 second-hand books in both our houses while we waited for the perfect premises to materialise, and couldn’t believe our luck when we found an old surf shop on Hall Street, Bondi. We immediately knew that this was the spot we had dreamed of for so long.
There were snags along the way, of course. Yet we renovated in under six weeks, with hardly any money, using the labour of family and friends to whom we are forever indebted.
On a day filled with flowers and tears and fervent wishes, we opened our shop to the people of Bondi Beach, who picked politely over the rubble that hadn’t yet been carted away, and bought and browsed for books. And those people kept buying them, and thanking us for creating this special oasis, and they quickly became regulars, friends, and family.
Twelve years ago, we moved three doors down after our lease ended, and despite the closure of many bookshops in Sydney, Gertrude & Alice continued to go from strength to strength.
My dream has always been to serve the local Bondi community with wonderful books, good food and great coffee, and along with my daughter, Kate, son, Jordan and a loyal team of staff that are like family to me, that’s what we continue to endeavour to do, each and every day. We continue to try to give you the best coffee we can make; we still serve our teas in beautiful old china cups and saucers, our beloved armchairs offer a respite for customers for when it’s cold outside, our brownies will always be home-made, and we really try to keep a wide range of books for you to choose from.
We hope that you continue to enjoy our shop and what it provides as much as we love creating and running it for you.
It is a great honour to be part of the Bondi community and to actively participate in the cultural life of such a diverse, creative and vital place. We love being a home away from home, where customers – both old and new – can trade ideas, discuss their passions, and find inspiration and imagination within the confines of our book-stocked walls.