A new independent bookshop will open in the Dartmoor town of Okehampton this weekend, with Tolkien illustrator Alan Lee and children’s author Philip Reeve on hand to celebrate the launch.
The 250 sq ft shop, Dogberry & Finch, will officially open on Saturday 21st September. Stocking an initial 1,000 titles, the former florist’s shop is the only independent in a 15-mile radius of Okehampton, according to owner Kate McCloskey. The owner moved to the area just over a year ago, and wanted to make a contribution to her community.
“Every town should have a book shop - it’s such a good focus for community events and for people just coming in to chat - to chat about books, to chat about their lives and to meet other people and socialise,” McCloskey said. “I hope it will be a real positive on the community. There’s not another bookshop within 15 miles of Okehampton and there's not been one for decades. The level of support and excitement I got in the build up was just huge.”
McCloskey, who opened with a soft launch last month, will run the shop with help from partner and retired Citizens Advice Bureau advisor Linus. McCloskey is a first-time bookseller with a career working in libraries, academia, advertising and the social care sector.
The shop takes its name from characters in Much Ado About Nothing and McCloskey’s favourite title To Kill A Mockingbird. The name has also been influenced by the local community where Dogberry or Rowan trees and chaffinches are common.
The shop's launch event will see Oscar-winning Tolkein illustrator Alan Lee, Dartmoor artist Danny Holmes-Adams give short talks while children’s author Philip Reeve will be on hand for a visit from the local primary school.
Following launch day, the bookshop intends to run a series of community events - including poetry karaoke for National Poetry Day on 3rd of October and a writing group starting from 21st October. McCloskey is keen for Dogberry & Finch to provide a real resource for the local community and can help those living in isolation.
McCloskey said: “Books get to the heart of things - they’re important and they changes lives really. Books can be a catalyst for addressing other things in a community like loneliness, isolation or rural poverty. Like a universal language, It’s a good hook to draw in all kinds of people and get people talking and enjoying literature.
“I’m loving this venture and the possibilities of how it could grow as well. I’d love to do some projects offering things to older members of the community in the future. Maybe stocking up on current large print books because they’re actually quite difficult to get hold of sometimes. Maybe taking books out into the community. There’s all sorts of possibilities. At the moment I’m just being led by the community and what they want.”
Booksellers Association m.d. Meryl Halls welcomed the new shop. She said: “It’s always heartening to hear of a new independent bookshop opening, and with an event space, plus support for local artists, we’re sure Dogberry & Finch will be a very welcome addition to the community in Okehampton.”