When the lockdown was announced, what was the effect on events and The Bookcase shop?
We had just had a couple of very large events which we don’t normally do at that time of year, so it was very lucky that we managed those before the lockdown. At first I closed the shop completely for about a week as I and a few members of staff were having to self-isolate for various reasons. I then furloughed my 7 staff and came back to the shop behind closed doors.
How have you adapted your work?
It’s been interesting! Obviously, I’ve been working alone and the orders started immediately with customers near and far wanting to help us to survive. I’ve had to adapt to running a mail order business and to finding new ways to reach customers – we’ve used social media to great effect.
How did you keep going during this challenging period and what helped?
Customer loyalty and support has been the most humbling and heartwarming part of the experience. It has absolutely kept me going as well as the support of my staff from their furloughed position, and the community around me here in Lowdham which has been outstanding. My relationship with the local Post Office has been crucial and they’ve helped me so much by being a collection point every day for our customers. Our wholesaler, Gardners Books, has basically saved the book industry by managing to keep the supply of books flowing – slowly at first but now almost back to their usual next day service which is incredible in the circumstances. BBC Radio Nottingham and local newspapers have also been really supportive and helpful in publicising what we are doing – that is so appreciated.
What aspects of being a bookseller before the lockdown do you miss the most now?
The face to face conversations with customers about what they are reading and helping them in the shop to choose their next read.
What are you most proud of about your shop’s lockdown response?
I’m most proud of our customers and the community really – we’ve donated free books to people who can’t leave the house, and I’ve felt very much part of a community team to help everyone cope with the effects of lockdown life.
Are there any changes you’ve made that you hope to keep in the long term?
Definitely a greater emphasis on using our social media platforms to reach more customers and also building on the online part of our business.
What is the current situation at The Bookcase & when do you hope to reopen? I am currently preparing to re-open on Monday 15th June – protective screen in place, masks, gloves and sanitiser at the ready, signage to direct people to our back door for pre-paid collections/front door for browsing, and two members of staff coming off furlough to be part of the adventure!
You can still order books by emailing with queries or by calling Jane on 07974 609945.