By Ke Xu

Located at Main and Sherman intersection, Rooney’s is the shop in the neighborhood that you will feel intrigued by. I love a good aesthetic, and Rooney’s certainly checks that off: the warm earthy orange exterior, hand painted window signs, a special window showcase of the current artist, and calming minimalist interior.

But it has more than just aesthetics to offer- It is the one and only photobook store in Southern Ontario, also a cafe that sells locally roasted coffee, craft teas, and baked goods. Owner Katie Sadie is a photographer who is enthusiastic to bring local photography lovers together. I had the opportunity to attend the very first art talk in June hosted at Rooney’s, by their featuring Canadian photographer, Naomi Harris. Her art is currently showcasing at Rooney’s till early September. Naomi’s work documented the life of snowbirds in Florida, with vivid colour, intimate yet sharp lens, she genuinely captured the livelihood of seniors, from hotel pools, casino tables, the beach…… Her photo book <EUSA>, as well as <American Swings> are available in store and online at Rooney’s.

Rooney’s will host their next art talk < Cruise Night> on September 24th, featuring LA based artist Kristin Bedford. Lowriders from various local clubs will park at Rooney’s storefront to show support of the event. A tamale vendor will be having a pop-up at the event.

I had the honour to interview Katie, to share her love and vision for Rooney’s. It left me feeling hopeful about this unique but essential shop, for what it has to offer to the Canadian photography community, as well as as a platform for local entrepreneurs.

1. Please introduce yourself and Rooney’s!- what is your shop all about?

Well, my name is Katie Sadie. I have a 2.5 year old daughter named Rooney. Rooney is the shop’s namesake. Inside Rooney’s you’ll find photo books, coffee, tea, baked goods and kids vintage clothes. Some people have asked, “what IS a photo book?”. A photo book is just like any other published book- just think of the ‘photographer’ as the ‘author’. I’ve also opened Rooney’s for the community to host workshops and small events- I would love to hear peoples’ ideas for putting on pop ups, workshops and small events- please feel free to reach out to us!

2. What inspired you to open Rooney’s?

I am a photographer myself, when I spent one year traveling on the road photographing the Southern United States I often sought out photography communities wherever I stopped. It was easier to find these community hubs while I was traveling compared to anything I’ve found around here. So, I have chosen to create what I was looking for. I believe this is the first of its kind in Southern Ontario- combining photo books, coffee, and baked goods.

3. You personally did a lot of documentation genre photography, what do you focus on when you curate photo books for the shop?

Yes, so the photo books on the shelves you’ll find are primarily documentary photography. But definitely not limited to! At Rooney’s the photo books will constantly rotate. I am bringing in photo books from all over the world working with distributors and publishers from Canada, Europe, United States, Australia and the list will keep growing. Right now you’ll find subject matters such as car culture, family relations, introspection, various cultures, environmental issues, travel and so much more. We also have a permanent library with lots of photo books to peruse as well.

4. What are the top 3 things you love the most about Rooney’s?

I love that my daughter Rooney will have a space to grow up around all sorts of creative people. I have been loving all of the feedback from our neighbours walking by as we worked on the space- everyone has been so positive and looking forward to having a space like Rooneys’ around. I love working with entrepreneurs within the community – our coffee is from Detour and their roastery is literally down the street from Rooneys, and our tea is from Monarch which is also produced in Hamilton. We also have a small selection of kids vintage clothes supplied by Well Loved and she is a Hamiltonian as well!

5. What is your dream for Rooney’s, say for the year coming up and onward?

My dream is to host a variety of events and continue to get more people involved with pop ups and workshops etc. There are endless possibilities for Rooney’s and I truly believe that. Rooney’s has started out as my vision but its evolution is yet to be determined-stayed tuned!