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Separating fact from (pulp) fiction in Kelowna

Gloria and Max Sloan run the Pulp Firction Coffee House, Robbie Rare Books, Antiquarian and Out of Print Books and Art Deco Nouveau - Jennifer Smith
Gloria and Max Sloan run the Pulp Firction Coffee House, Robbie Rare Books, Antiquarian and Out of Print Books and Art Deco Nouveau
— image credit: Jennifer Smith

When Max Sloan started collecting pulp fiction thirty-five years ago, he knew he would one day open a store.

That he could have imagined it would become the one-in-a-million find it is, well that might have been foreseeable too.

Sloan is a geologist by trade and the unreal collection of pulp fiction, classic hardcovers, magazines and collectibles he has crammed into the former home of Kelowna radio station SilkFm, at Lawrence Avenue and Pandosy Street, is the kind of gem only someone who has travelled the world in search of treasure might create.

“I don’t know of another place like it in the Pacific Northwest,” said Sloan, noting he’s already been visited by book dealers.

With poster finds from Brussels and original copies of Anne of Green Gables, the shop, bannered as the Pulp Fiction Coffee House, has something for everyone. In fact, it’s really four separate businesses in one.

In addition to the coffee house, the cavernous space, divided into little nooks, contains Robbie Rare Books, named after Sloan and his wife Gloria’s standard poodle Robbie, Britannia Antiques and Art Deco Nouveau, and boasts a grand schematic ranging from posters for hipsters to Hemingway for bookworms.

Sloan has the Hardy Boys and a lamp that depicts Napoleon’s retreat that was made for the Paris Exhibition and found in a Lebanon, Tennessee shop.

He’s got titles like The Destroyer and The Wolf of Wall Street in the hallway behind the ’50’s diner swivel seats and tiny coke bottles.

What he doesn’t have is any memorabilia focused on John Travolta, Bruce Willis or Uma Thurman.

“People keep thinking it’s named for Pulp Fiction the movie, but it’s not. Pulp is actually a term for cheap paper,” said Sloan.

During prohibition, printing on pulp paper for everything from paperbacks to posters produced a plethora of quick and dirty material tales, rife with with heady crime dramas playing out in the streets. Sloan says he simply loves the art of it all.

“I’m not a big reader. I like the aesthetic,” he explained as he stood looking into the glass encased bookcase of collector’s paperback pulp.

Whether you’re looking for a $500 copy of Jim Thompson’s The Transgressor or a chance to hear a live poetry reading, Sloan says he just wants people to come in and hang out.

“I really enjoy young people,” he said. “So we want the university kids to come in, get a poster for their dorm room or sit and read. But we know we need the well-heeled middle-aged set for the antiques and a few of the grey-hairs too.”

As for retirement, he says working his passion is about as much of a break as he needs.

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