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Staff Profile: Trey Dunbar


The information desk at Bookshop Santa Cruz is the hub of daily activity for booksellers. It’s our primary point of contact for assisting customers. I was recently at the info desk when someone walked up and asked if we had any books featuring travel with camels. I drew a complete blank and turned to a computer to search for ideas. As I did, I noticed one of my fellow booksellers, Celeste, dart past me to the nearby travel writing section. Moments later, she was back, handing the customer an adventure memoir featuring camels. It had caught her eye only days before. The customer was immediately intrigued. Mission accomplished! High-fives for my colleague who found what we were looking for. This is a great example of what makes being a bookseller special. Putting the perfect book in the hands of a customer is what it's all about.

I became a bookseller 5 years ago, at the age of 60. I was not an obvious choice for the position. In my previous 25 years, I had worked more with numbers than words. My love of books must have been evident during the interview and I got the job. It’s proven to be the most enjoyable work I’ve ever done. I love being able to share the excitement of a great new book with customers in the store.

I discovered the magic of books early on. I was born and raised in New Orleans, imbued by default with a passion for great music and great food. But what animated me most was reading. My lifelong love affair with books started as soon as my parents started reading to me. I became a voracious reader when I learned how letters come together to become words. Throughout elementary school, it was as if I were in a competition to see who could read the most books. I found most classes in high school boring at best, and books became my refuge and escape. In those years it was mystery and sci-fi/fantasy that most often caught my attention. I still remember reading every Nero Wolfe (Rex Stout) mystery I could lay my hands on. Frank Hebert’s Dune and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy sparked my imagination and excitement. While still in high school I also discovered that there was a world beyond genre fiction. It was then that I read two of my all-time favorite books: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey.Books are instruments of enchantment and power. They have the ability to inform and transform. They are a gateway that can lead anywhere, to the solidity of places real or the magic of places imagined. They can even take you to the intersection between real and imagined.

During the difficulties of pandemic living, reading has been an oasis for many of us. Bookshop Santa Cruz has continued to bring the magic of books to our community. During this challenging time, I'm grateful to have been a bookseller.


Trey Dunbar wears many hats at Bookshop Santa Cruz, including bookseller, back-up supervisor, and as part of the business office.

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