Catherine Baker (24), who saved Melton Bookshop from closure after its previous owners retired, tells the Melton Times how the business is interacting with the community and why residents should support small independent shops in the town.
Q Where did you get your passion for reading and books and how have you made the shop a success?
A My mother is a big reader so I should probably give her some credit! I think you could say that I really fell in love with books when I was a young teenager; Harry Potter in particular.
I did work experience at The Melton Bookshop when I was 15 and I can probably trace my love of bookshops back to then. I went on to do a degree at Oxford Brookes University in publishing which cemented my love of the industry.
Many of the plans I had for the shop have worked well and the shop is now more active in the town.
There is a craft group alongside our existing book group, we are involved with many charities in the town, we are on local radio 103 The Eye, we take part in the Christmas Tree Festival every year at St Mary’s Church and last year we took part in the Victorian Christmas Fayre.
More and more people come to the shop for the first time to pick up books rather than shop online which is how we measure success.
Q How do you make yourself stand out from the competition?
A Most of the time its such simple things that are the key to bookshops finding success. Customer service and community focus are buzzwords that all businesses have to take in to consideration. In many ways you have to take the ego out of the business; it has to be about what your customers want and need rather than “what kind of shop do I want ton run?”
Q How important is it have a bookshop in our community?
A I think it’s vital. A lot of places find that having a bookshop on the high street adds cultural value to a town and gives character.
For many of our local authors we are the only outlet for their works and for many customers we are the only place that can source obscure books.
As a community we all need to do everything we can to promote literacy and reading among young and old alike and having things like bookshops, libraries and Sure Start centres (which are under threat at the moment) always contribute to better education.
Q Does it frustrate you when small independent shops close down on our high street due to issues such as rent costs and other discrepancies?
A As a small business it scares me greatly and as a resident of Melton it angers me. I don’t want Melton to be a town of empty shop units and generic chain businesses, I want to see the town as a champion for small businesses and a town that flies the flag for local industry.
We can’t do that if we are fighting crippling and unfounded rent increases which continue to rise. What breaks my heart is when we here rumours of profitable businesses who are almost forced out of premises because other chain stores want the space .
If these issues are not assessed quickly it makes for a dark state of affairs.
l Melton Bookshop is located in Leicester Street.
Visit www.facebook.com/TheMeltonBookshop or www.twitter.com/meltonbook