Three new independent bookshops have launched onto the scene in Manchester, Cheltenham and Cornwall.
The Suffolk Anthology opened its doors at the end of last month in Cheltenham, run by former GP Helene Hewett as a family business with her two children, selling new titles, with a significant children’s section.
Churchtown Books opened in Mullion, Cornwall on 14th March, run by Grant Wheeler selling new, mainly local interest books, along with second hand and rare titles.
Meanwhile sisters Christine Cafun and Lyndsy Kirkman are set to open the 4,000 sq ft Chapter One Books in Manchester’s Northern Quarter with a mini-theatre and café in early May.
Kirkham is currently a stem cell scientist working for the NHS in London, while Cafun has formerly been in the beautician industry.
“My sister came down to stay with me for an uncle’s funeral - he was always the life and soul of the party,” Kirkman told The Bookseller. “My room was full head to toe in books and my sister remembered that that used to be her long-forgotten passion. It went from there really. She said ‘this is what I want to do for the rest of my life’ and I was sold on the idea as soon as she said it to me.”
Kirkham said the pair want inside their new bookshop to evoke “Alice in Wonderland – you go through the keyhole and there is a whole world in there,” and are spending a lot of time and energy curating the physical space into a retail experience. They will sell mainly new literary books, as well as titles by local Mancunian authors, and also have a small second hand collection which customers will be welcome to sit in store and read. “We are just going through stock as we speak,” said Kirkham. Chapter One Books will also have a mini-theatre, housing 50 seats, and hold regular author event and poetry readings.
Churchtown Books, opened on Saturday in Mullion, Cornwall, selling new books by local publisher and distributor Tormark Press, along with secondhand and rare books.
Owner Grant Wheeler, who has previously owned a bookshop in Wadebridge, said: "I have always had a passion for books and reading and being around books, and I have always wanted to own a shop, so it made sense to put the two together.” He said he has had a “very good response” from locals to opening a bookshop after a previous one in the village closed and residents missed it. “We were absolutely chocker block on opening day, I could barely fit in the shop myself,” said Wheeler. “We will be a seasonal business as it is quite a touristy areas around here,” he added.
Meanwhile former GP Helene Hewett who has opened the Suffolk Anthology in Cheltenham said she was motivated to open an indie after harbouring “a lifelong love of reading.” She said: “It was a big career change, but I really wanted to do it.” Hewett said her desire to open a bookshop were confirmed after going on a taster course run the Booksellers Association three years ago. “We will stock new titles with quite a huge children’s section. I am waiting to find out what customers want,” she added.