I open the door. The bookshop space in front of me is warm and welcoming. There are treasures for little ones on the left. Beautiful illustrations greet me. On the right are a thousand adventures for older children, all waiting to be taken home. Golden light emanates from the chandelier. It feels like a rather magical space, a space in which a fairy could have found a new home. And then I see it. A little fairy door...
I'm so sorry that I haven't updated my blog for so long. Although I always felt like my bookshop story was incomplete and I had planned to write this blog post for months, I never found the time to sit down and write. But now I'm here, in my bookshop, writing about my experiences.
As you all can imagine, we've been incredibly busy! Our pre-Christmas sales exceeded all of our expectations. So, once again, thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm. We've got an exciting year ahead full of stories and adventures.
So let me tell you a little bit more about my bookshop story and the last couple of months.
My parents came over from Germany once again for the final renovation works, the bookshop opening and my graduation. I had completed my Masters in Early Childhood Education earlier last year which also (apart from my passion for books and stories) boosted my eagerness to realise my bookshop dream. Reading is just so incredibly important for children and if they discover their love for literature when they are little, books will be their companions for the rest of their lives.
I must say that, without the help of my parents and my very patient husband, the shop (and I) wouldn't have been ready for the opening day on the 7th of December.
On the 6th of December at 9pm I started to take out about 500-600 books from seven big boxes. As I told some of you, we only 'finished' the bookshop on the night before the opening day. It's needless to say that I was very exhausted and emotional at that stage. And my husband and my parents were absolutely knackered.
My mum and dad could barely move anymore after they worked in the bookshop for 3 days from early morning till evening. I'm so incredibly thankful for their help! By the way, you might have seen them in the very back corner of the bookshop on the opening day- they were still recovering from the hard work!
For me it was very strange when, finally, the books were on the shelves and our renovation mission was complete. Very odd and confusing feelings overwhelmed me. It was a mixture of excitement, fear and worry. So much worry! What would happen if nobody shows up tomorrow, on the opening day? I couldn't sleep that night. I got up at 6am to walk around our home restlessly with a cup of very strong coffee in my hand.
But I shouldn't have worried. The opening was simply incredible and you all were fantastic! What a wonderful day! So many of you dropped in to have a browse.
Obstacles or tests?
So, what was my personal biggest obstacle? Doubt and worry! Throughout the entire bookshop renovation process, I was consumed by so many ever-changing emotions, some of them positive, some of them negative. And to be honest, I still worry a lot about absolutely everything. But then, when I sit here in my bookshop, I also feel a sense of calm.
I've already learned so much more about the book business and it has been only 4 weeks. And above all, I've met so many wonderful Wee Bookworms!
I've worked in libraries and bookshops before but it is a completely different and even more marvellous experience when you run your very own one. Things that I thought would be easy turned out to be rather difficult. Things that I thought are going to be difficult turned out to be easy. But all in all, it has been going really well!
Perhaps you are also wondering what the most difficult thing was about opening a bookshop. Personally, I thought that the renovation works very taking a toll on my emotional sanity! It was difficult to find workmen and sometimes, whenever I did the work myself, it was rather dangerous. I'm super clumsy and thus, I managed to cut up my hand on glass pretty badly (just to give you an example).Oh, and I also fell off a ladder because I forgot that I was standing on it….. That all happened in the weeks before the opening.
Another odd thing was that I always felt like I was nearly done with the work. Basically from week one I thought that it wouldn't take that long to open the bookshop. However, so many little problems appeared that took a long time to fix. Sometimes it felt like somebody or something was testing me whilst asking: 'Do you really want to open this bookshop?', 'How much do you really want this?'. But, in some way, this nearly-done-feeling and the test-like environment also kept me going. It motivated me. I reacted to the testing and obstacles in the following way: I asked (nobody in particular) in an angry voice "ARE YOU SERIOUS?" (or in German: "Ernsthaft?) And you know what, letting out my frustration into the open space helped me.
What I'm also glad about
When I was a student in Scotland, I worked in an Oxfam bookshop for a while. Every morning when we opened the shop, some of the books that had been on the shelves were lying on the floor. Obviously, one of our theories was that there was an angry Bookshop ghost (most certainly not a book enthusiast) pushing off the books from the bookshelves. I'm glad to be able to assure you that this hasn't happened at Wee Bookworms (yet). And if it would, I'm sure our fairy would put the books back and scold the ghost…. Yes, I got a little carried away…
At the moment I'm struggling to get a suitable shop sign. If you ever open a bookshop, please refrain from buying vinyl signs from online shops. I'm on my third one (after destroying the first sign due to my clumsiness and after receiving another faulty one) and just a few moments ago I realised (after struggling to get it onto the window) that it would have needed to be put on outside as it was the wrong way around. So, I'm still without a sign and I doubt my intelligence a little bit.
So vinyl signs are definitely not the most efficient ones and I've decided that I will get a proper Wee Bookworms sign now. Look out for it! :)
I'm also working on a new and better website at the moment so that the Book Subscriptions and Bookshop Gift Vouchers will be easier to find.
It's been around 4 weeks since the opening day and I think I'm just beginning to realise that this is my little bookshop. I from 15 years ago wouldn't believe it! What an adventurous journey…..and my bookish story isn't over yet ;) Just you wait!
By the way, we are going to run a 'Make your own book cover competition' for children between 6 and 11 years from the local area. The lucky winner will receive a £35 voucher to spend in our bookshop.
I will keep you posted!