A good bookshop is not just about selling books from shelves, but reaching out into the world and making a difference.
I've got the shop. I've got the keys in my hand. My bookshop journey begins…. I feel a little crazy but I don't think that's a bad thing. I'm also so excited!
Just before I start, I want to thank you all for your great support! It's so wonderful to see that so many people are as excited as I am about Wee Bookworms!
The bookshop is an empty shell that is not even truly empty yet. There is so much to do. Even the walls need so much more than just a lick of paint! Wallpaper has to be torn off, stud walls and flooring need to be removed. This wee shop needs a serious makeover.
Wee Bookworms is going to be more than a children's bookshop. It is going to be a space for the entire community, young and old, where stories will be told, where arts and crafts workshops inspire, where local artists and authors can present and promote their work, where book club meetings take place and, above all, where children's books can be celebrated.
It always has been my dream to open a children's bookshop. When I was a little girl in Germany, where I'm originally from, there were no independent children's bookshops in my local area. I always felt that this was a pity! How marvellous a children's bookshop could be to children, not just the older children but also to little ones, that are just starting to explore the world of books.
But I must admit that my favourite bookshop had a wonderful kid's book section too. I used to spend hours browsing its shelves, buying precious books (that I still own and that are now here with me, in Northern Ireland) until…well, until it had to close down. I was a little perplexed. Where do people get their books from? At that time, Amazon was still relatively small. However, a bit like in the film 'You've got mail', big book companies in Germany destroyed little, local bookshops. And that also happened in my town.
When did I fall in love with independent bookshops? My dad and I went to Paris once when I was 17 years old. This is where we discovered Shakespeare & Co. and I bought a second-hand copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I still own! To me, this book is so much more than 'just a book'! Firstly, I love the story and I have read it many times since, but secondly, every time I hold it in my hands, I think of this truly magical bookshop in Paris that me and my dad visited together. A happy memory! To this day, every time when I visit a new city or a new town, I have to find the best local bookshops.
Many things have happened since I was a 17 year old girl of course, some dreams do change. Yet, this one, special dream always remained: I would love to run my own children's bookshop!
To me, stories are never just stories. Books take us away from our reality and show us new worlds and sometimes they can even support us in difficult times. To nurture a lifelong love for books and bookshops, I want to create a space in which children can embrace the magic that children's books convey. Beautiful book displays will be surrounded by old and new things. As you might know, I love antique children's books too. Amongst all the new copies, there also will be a section that is dedicated to precious old editions of beloved classics.
The bookshop is very close to Narnia (I'm not even joking) and the Fairy Glen in Rostrevor. It is located in the seaside town of Warrenpoint, a stone's throw away from the sea. By the way, I'm almost certain that fairies really do live in Rostrevor and Warrenpoint, I've already found some fairy dust in my soon-to-be children's bookshop. Let's hope that they will pay us a visit soon again!
Last week I spent many hours scraping off wallpaper. I think the walls in the shop must have been pale blue a long time ago. I also found bits of wallpaper from the 70s; an era that is always easy to determine with its very vibrant colours.
As you probably know, scraping off wallpaper isn't the most enthralling thing to do on a Sunday morning, but every little bit of progress in the shop improves my vision for the future. By the way, I tried to convince my husband that scraping off wallpaper can be fun, however, after about 30 minutes (to be fair, whilst listening to very girly music), he gave up!
A few days ago, the original floor was uncovered but unfortunately it must have suffered a lot in the last decades and thus, I won't be able to use it. It's a pity, I always like to use and preserve original features but in this case, it's unfortunately impossible.
This week the stud walls were removed to open up the space. The light that is shining through the window on a sunny day makes the shop look beautiful and golden. It also feels much bigger now.
I'm trying to do most of the work myself…and so far so good! Everything is moving forward fairly quickly, so hopefully, I will be able to open the shop in early December.
Thank you for reading! Part 2 will be published next week.