Three independent bookshops around the country have been named on the shortlist of retailers in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2019.
Kett's Books in Wymondham, Norfolk, The Hours Cafe Bookshop & Deli in Brecon and Book-ish in Crickhowell, Powys are in the running for the award, celebrating the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s high streets and the central role they play in their local communities.
“Independent retailers are the lifeblood of UK high streets,”said Mark Walmsley, chairman of the Independent Retailers Confederation. They offer tradition, choice and innovation through the diversity of niche products and services. Independent retailers have been, and still are, an integral part of local communities all around the UK. The Best Small Shops competition enables us to celebrate this unique industry. It is all about recognising the community and culture that is independent retail, giving us the chance to highlight its innovation, customer service, commitment to community and diversity.”
Kett's Books is run by volunteers, who met as strangers in a pub in 2013 and agreed to get together to save the town's bookshop from closing, choosing to run it toward a shared vision of community outreach, school visits, working with care homes, running programmes for children, and author visits. Over 200 Friends pay £20 per year to demonstrate loyalty. Volunteers benefit from Kett's, then lead us out to where people are, with days out, book groups, school assemblies, and a school marketing workshop. This year the shop has bren running a town-wide book group, reading a single book to build conversations and bring readers and non-readers together.
The Hours Cafe Bookshop & Deli in Brecon describes itself as “a tranquil, bijou sanctuary of lovingly curated books & treats nestled in a building affectionately referred to by locals and visitors as 'the wonky green shop'. In addition to book events and supper clubs, the shop is also actively involved with the Brecon Women's Festival, the Brecon Fringe Festival, the Brecon Baroque Festival & Cerys Matthews' The Good Life Festival.
Book-ish in Crickhowell, Powys, positions itself as a community hub running five book clubs, over 100 events annually, the Crickhowell Literary Festival and Children’s Book Festivals, a monthly cinema club and providing a home for weekly community groups as well as a carefully curated selection of books for sale.
Meryl Halls, m.d. at the Bookseller's Association, said: “Congratulations to Kett’s Books, The Hours Café Bookshop & Deli, and Bookish – we are delighted to see three bookshops in the running to be named Britain’s best small shop 2019! It’s wonderful to see each of these bookshops recognised for the fantastic job they do to create memorable retail experiences for their customers, as well as safe spaces for anyone and everyone to come and enjoy books.”
The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC) and sponsored by retail technology company Near St. The winner will be announced at an event at the Houses of Parliament on 5th November.