Samuel sells the classics to a town healing from floods

ABOVE: Samuel Allis among the books at Hemlock’s Books and Coffee in Woodburn.

Susanna Freymark

There’s an outbreak of a famous book in Woodburn.

Samuel Allis who opened Hemlock’s Books and Coffee three weeks ago has been recommending one of his favourites to customers.

He has already sold many copies of The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway to Woodburn residents.

The Woodburn resident looks like he might have stepped from the pages of a classic book.

He wears a bold red tie and pale blue shirt with a long apron over the top.

His favourite writers are Fyodor Dostoevsky, Hermann Hesse and of course, Hemingway.

Samuel talks books over the purr of the coffee machine.

“It’s been my dream,” Samuel said.

“I love books. Since I’ve been here I can’t keep a copy of The Old Man and the Sea on the shelf.”

Samuel Allis reading The Old Man and the Sea

That could be because he keeps recommending the book.

Samuel loves classic literature and philosophy – best served with coffee.

Hemlock’s is more than a shop to buy a book and a coffee.

Tall armchairs parked in corners next to tables with chessboards and shelves of books, in a giant lounge room inviting people to stay a while, sit and read, take your time and have a chat.

The former newsagency has been transformed into a haven by Samuel.

Every Friday there is a Reading for Bubs and Tots in the upstairs children’s book section.

Saturdays at 1pm is the Dungeons and Dragons group.

Wednesday is the bush poetry session.

Samuel loves nothing more than a good bush poem.

“We’ll all be rooned,” he said, quoting Said Hanrahan, a poem written by the Australian bush poet John O’Brien.

Since opening the shop, Samuel has been growing the classic section and the number of customers coming through the door.

“People here have been really grateful,” he said.

An old fella came in with his wife to buy The Old Man and the Sea. She was so excited.”

A few days later, the man came back and told Samuel – “I’ve never been so anxious about a fish.”

It made me cry, Samuel said.

As he got up to make another coffee, a woman came in to buy The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.

“It’s an anniversary present,” she said.

It was the film she and her husband saw together on their first date.

Samuel and his bookshop are creating memories – and more.

The shop is a welcoming, safe place, somewhere slow and gentle for residents still hurting from the February-March floods last year to take time out.

It is the perfect shop for Woodburn right now.

Stop awhile at Hemlock’s and play chess.
Scroll to Top