AMHERSTBURG, ONT. -- Former president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, Richard Peddie is weeks away from opening an independent bookstore “River Bookshop” in the Town of Amherstburg.

“Small towns need independent bookstores to be really healthy, culturally, socially and economically,” he said.

Peddie and his wife have spent the last several months restoring an old Victorian building at 67 Richmond Street which dates back to 1885.

“We think it’s going to make a difference in this town and beyond this town we think this is an investment and an asset for all of the county,” he said.

Peddie says the nearest bookstore is more than 30 km away, and believes the demand for independent bookstores is growing in Canada.

“We believe this bookstore, as small as it is, can be very mighty!”

Peddie was also president and CEO of the Toronto Raptors in 1996 before his leadership role of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment between 1998 and 2011.

Despite still living part time in Toronto, Peddie intends to keep his store limited to the town of 22,000.

“I’ve already received interest from a major developer in Toronto who said ‘we’re watching what you’re doing and we’d like you to open one in this new development.’ I said I’m far from being a book expert, and no, we’re focusing on Amherstburg.”

Peddie expects River Bookshop to open sometime in August.