Essex store Caxton Books has launched a £25,000 crowdfunding campaign after facing a potential 60% increase in rent.
The bookshop has been run by Judith Charlesworth and Sally Johnson in Frinton for 14 years and has been based in the town for around four decades.
But the pair have been locked in negotiations with the building’s landlord, since they discovered a mammoth rent rise was being mooted. They have now run-up a substantial legal bill and are appealing for help from their loyal customers and other booklovers as talks with the landlord continue.
The 60% figure, which the pair hope will still be reduced, is "fair" but at the high end for the area's valuation and more in line with a business like Costa, Charlesworth said. A similar rent rise led to the recent demise of a popular café nearby earlier this year.
“It’s at the very top end, particularly for a bookshop in a quiet seaside town,” she explained. “A 60% leap is enormous, especially without any warning. You can’t just change your entire business model.”
The crowdfunder, which went live on Saturday (23rd November) aims to raise £25,000 which will go towards ongoing solicitor fees and supporting the business for the first few years as it absorbs the increased rent.
Charlesworth said the rent hike was a particular blow as it had been a “buoyant” year for the shop, which also has a gallery and runs a popular film event Cinema-on-Sea.
She said: “It’s interesting how you can be doing well as a business, not that bookshops find it easy, and you can have your journey taken off course so easily by something like this. You think in terms of stock orders or customers but actually something like this is a shock.
Every person who pledges money will get a cloth bag and thank you note, with extra rewards for those who go the extra mile.
Before the crowdfunder went live, Charlesworth said people had been asking how they could help. She said: “They’ve been popping in saying ‘how can I give money?’. It’s a lovely, loyal community we have here.
“When the café closed it was a shock for everybody. These are two businesses people thought would always be here.”