North Yorkshire secondhand bookshop owner Steve Bloom has defended his policy of asking customers to pay 50p to browse his store Bloomindales, saying he won't "bow to pressure" to revoke the charge following media coverage.
The controversial practice reported last week saw Bloom, based in Hawes, branded “the Basil Fawlty of booksellers” and accused of bringing the town into disrepute by Hawes Parish Council chairman John Blackie. But Bloom has said the 50p charge weeds out time-wasters in his shop and benefits charity. Those who make a purchase are told they can have a refund, says Bloom, but many subsequently donate the money to charity.
"I explain about the 50p and when they come to leave with a book I say keep the 50p. Many people then say 'no keep it or give it to charity.' So it goes to Compassion in World Farming," Bloom told the Craven Herald. "Those people who get upset about the 50p feel challenged. This is a test. I want people who come into to shop to be interested and appreciative of books. This is not a bus stop or a room for browsers."
He added: "Now that this has got out to the press, all and sundry know how it works, so it won't be the same. But I'll continue to ask for it - I'm not bowing to pressure."
Bloom came to the attention of the press after it emerged Hawes Parish Council had received more than 20 complaints from customers over four years about the bookseller's behaviour. The final straw was a complaint from a doctor visiting from Shropshire who Bloom admitted to calling "a pain in the arse" when he arrived around closing time.