Today we signed the lease to the property we’ve been chasing for 12 weeks. We are reliably informed there isn’t really anything that can stop us getting the keys on Friday. To say we are excited would be a ridiculous understatement.
We only really “came out” about the bookshop in the last 2 weeks and the response has been overwhelming. If even a small % of the positive feedback for what we are doing translates to people through the door then we will be ok. We have had so much support from friends with school connections, to activity and workshop providers, to authors, to parents, to my theatre company and to the children in our family who have been instrumental. One silent pillar in the project has been our good friend and graphic designer Greg Lindsay-Smith who was onboard and enthusiastic from the get go. He’s created all our artwork and the most wonderful signage. I really can’t thank him enough for providing creative spark and beautiful art but more for the full commitment to the cause and his belief in us.
The other major contributor to our Bookshop so far has been other booksellers. What people outside of the Book industry don’t realise is how collaborative we are and how we all wish each other success to the extent that we will go above and beyond to help each other. Andy Rossiter (Rossiter Books, Ross-On-Wye, Monmouth, Leominster and BA Vice President) in particular has pretty much mentored us throughout the whole process, providing us with invaluable business startup advice and allowing us to use his wonderful stock list as a starting point for our own shop. I feel very lucky to consider Andy and nearly all the best bookshop owners in the UK and Ireland, friends.
Are we scared? Of course we are! There are so many reasons why opening a bookshop on a high street in a city with a selection of wonderful bookshops and news stories of big retail chains struggling would seem like a crazy idea but what we have planned is quite unique and what Leanne and I bring to the party is also unique as a partnership. I think it is this that gives us the confidence to push on. I have spent 12 years helping other bookshops open and Leanne has spent 17 years inspiring children and young adults to be the best they can be from often difficult starts in life. We have both spent our lives performing. Combining this with our love of the many beautiful children’s books that are out there and the flood of evidence that, given the right blend of carefully curated books and activities and CAKE, we can and will succeed in becoming a reason to come to the high street.