Bookseller chased dream

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A Dunedin man who ran a bookselling business for 21 years says people with big ideas shouldn’t be dissuaded from chasing their dreams.
‘‘If you have an idea or ambition of what you’d like to do or to be, drive at it. Don’t just give up because someone says ‘that’s a silly idea’,’’ former bookseller Bob Stables said.
Kinmont resident Mr Stables celebrated his 90th birthday at the start of the month.
He said he and wife Joan were motivated to establish Stables Booksellers in 1966 because ‘‘after selling books for other people for 20 years, we decided to start selling them for ourselves.’’
Stables, located at 384 George St, offered specialist titles on subjects such as steam trains, shipping, and old school ties.
Mr Stables opened the book store, which finally closed in 1987, after a long apprenticeship in the book selling business which began with a position at Whitcombe and Tombs. After two years in the job, after the death of his predecessor, Mr Stables became head of the store’s textbook department.
He remembered being daunted as a then 22 year old when an order for £30,000 worth of textbooks (over $2 million in today’s money) came in and he had to go talk to store owner Mr Whitcombe.
‘‘I nearly died.’’
Outside of his long career in the bookselling trade (40 years), Mr Stables’ great passion was tramping, which he came to, in a serious way, as a recent school leaver after growing frustration with the lack of commitment showing by his Albany club hockey teammates.
‘‘After a time I got a bit fed up going to Saturday game[s] and there was some sod who had not turned up and [we] were playing one short. That was about the point I was getting interested again in the hills, so I joined the Otago Tramping Club.’’
Since then, Mr Stables has walked the Milford (twice), Kepler, Hollyford, and Ahurere tracks.
Until two years ago, when declining health prevented him, Mr Stables had gone out for a long walk at least once a week.
He said he had enjoyed tramping because it meant he could get ‘‘away from the madding crowd of town’’.
The Silverpeaks track was Mr Stables’ favourite walking track but, he said, for those who were less experienced the Leith Valley track was a good option.