Essex indie bookshop doubles in size after 'thriving' in pandemic

Essex indie bookshop doubles in size after 'thriving' in pandemic

An Essex-based indie bookshop is doubling in size after "thriving" during the pandemic.

Frog & Chicken in Brentwood will now occupy the shop next door to its current one on Crown Road, expanding its range to stock Manga and literary themed gifts. 

Owned by Jim and Natasha Radford, the children's bookshop acts as a community hub and runs tutoring sessions in addition to stocking a small selection of curated adult titles. The original shop opened in 2012, in a small site on Ongar Road, before moving to a much bigger space on Crown Road in December 2019.  

Commenting on the expansion, Natasha Radford said: "During the pandemic, we grafted hard, adapting to online events and lessons, home deliveries and Zoom tours of the shop. Now that we're back in person, the business is continuing to grow so we have taken on the shop next door, which comes with more events [and] classroom space, as well as a shop floor. We're going to expand our range of older titles [for ages 12+ to adults], plus some gifty items that are book related."

The wall that separates the additional space from the current shop will be knocked through, and includes two upstairs rooms — one of which will be available for hire. The annexe will feature a different aesthetic from the rest of the shop, and include dark furniture and armchairs for browsers.

"We’ve been overwhelmed by our customers to be honest," Radford added, "they’ve been so loyal. We picked up new customers during lockdown and they’ve remained with us, which is lovely.

"It's exciting and a bit scary, but we like living on adrenaline. We just figure that it we have not only survived, but thrived, during the past 18 months, against adversity in various forms, then we can make the expansion work."

The Radfords expect to open the new wing by the end of August.