A family-run independent bookshop in Stockton is celebrating its first birthday by expanding into new premises quadruple its original size.
Drake - The Bookshop, which originally occupied a space in a shopping arcade just 3x4sqm, said it is moving on to "bigger and better things" and reopens on Silver Street on 8th October in the company of debut novelist Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon (Viking).
The "birthday party" will include a Q&A session with de Waal, who will officially open the shop at its new premises from 3pm, and coincides with the Books are my Bag (BAMB) celebrations taking place nationwide on the same day. Doors open at 9am and there will be cake, promotions and party games through until 5pm.
Since opening last September in a small unit in the Enterprise Arcade in Stockton, the bookshop has doubled in size within the arcade and will be more than doubling in size again, according to shop owners, who have undertaken not only to expand their stock and lengthen opening hours but to create an after-school tutoring centre for children aged from five to 16.
The shop is co-owned by former teacher of 15 years, Richard Drake, who previously worked in Northumberland, Redcar and Cleveland, and head projects lead at Middlesborough Environment City Melanie Greenwood. Their teenage son, Matthew, also helps out in store when he can.
Melanie Greenwood and Richard Drake
The bookshop is the first new independent bookshop in the town since Dressers closed many years ago and scooped the Independent Retailers Confederation ‘Shop of the Month’ award just a few months after opening. It has an eclectic selection of children’s books, general fiction and non-fiction as well as a dedicated section for Dyslexia friendly reading and local authors.
Richard Drake said: "The Arcade has been great for us. Everyone from the council to B-Supplied, including all the other shop owners, have been incredibly supportive, but the chance to spread our wings was one we couldn’t resist."
Greenwood, who owns the shop alongside Richard, said: "We are very proud of our eclectic nature. While we do stock the bestsellers we want to give our customers the chance to take away a copy of the book they didn’t realise they wanted."
Drake added: "The people of Stockton have been amazing from day one. The support we have had from customers, who in lots of cases have become friends, has been incredible. We have had offers of help putting up cases; a request from one person to provide cakes for the opening and comments like ‘it’s lovely to have a proper bookshop in Stockton again’ is so heart-warming."
Drake– The Bookshop will also be involved in the first Stockton Book Festival, which takes place on 15th October on the High Street, in the library and in the new shop. As well as visits form authors such as Kes Gray, Ellie Irving and Elizabeth Haynes there will be live via Skype storytime sessions from children’s authors including Sue Hendra, author of Supertato.
Shark in the Park children's author Nick Sharratt (Corgi Children's), who participated in the first ever event Drake -The Bookshop held, will visit multiple schools in the Stockton area on Monday 31st October and sign stock that will be available in the shop.