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Running a Bookshop in the Time of a Pandemic

Running a Bookshop in the time of a Pandemic

Where to begin?

It has been a true up-and-down ride. Right now, I’m sitting here in a far too quiet children’s bookshop in the seaside town of Warrenpoint.

The so-called “Bookshop Silence” worries me. Then I tell myself to slow down. Tomorrow will be a great day again.

The last months have been challenging, enlightening and (quite honestly) also a bit scary. But hasn’t it been like this for all of us?

Running a children’s bookshop during a pandemic is especially one thing: Completely unpredictable.

Running a bookshop in a world full of kindles, laptops and I-pads isn’t easy in the first place. And let’s not forget Amazon, the dark cloud that looms over every independent bookshop on this very planet.

Covid-19 is the cherry on top of melting ice-cream.

Last month, Wee Bookworms had days when it was very busy (days that made me very hopeful, days that are filled with laughter and smiling children) and then there are days when the silence in the bookshop is only broken up by our background music.

When asked how it is going, I smile my most hopeful smile and say that it is going well, considering the situation our world is in…..

I think the entire world is in a state of disbelief. What happened in the last few months?

Wee Bookworms opened its doors just before Christmas last year. Little was heard of Covid-19 at that stage. For months, my husband and parents had helped me to get Northern Ireland’s first specialist children’s bookshop ready. Events were planned throughout 2020. World Book Day in March was a glorious hit. School visits and author presentations were very well received.

Kids enjoyed our Arts & Crafts workshops and Story-time sessions on Saturdays. I think (I hoped) that we had established ourselves in Northern Ireland.

Then, in mid-March, everything changed. I had to act fast! Quickly I decided to do LIVE Story-time sessions on Facebook. On top of our Book Subscriptions, I created Arts & Crafts Kits for all of the children that were stuck at home.

It was a busy time for me. The Live Story-time gave me quite a lot of stage fright, but I enjoyed the creative freedom that I suddenly had.

Then our Bookshop Fairy Belle Bookworm magically appeared. She is now an important team member.

Finally, in June, I could open our heavy entrance door again. I ordered a lot of new titles that were recently released and hoped for a good comeback. It was incredibly quiet at first but gradually it got a little busier.

Where to go from here? We are working on new, themed Arts & Crafts Boxes for Kids. Our Book Subscriptions have been popular, and we hope that their popularity will increase.

When it is quiet in my little bookshop, I also think of all local businesses around me. I’m not alone. We need to support each other.

We have plans for Halloween and Christmas (fingers crossed). I’m hopeful. All that comes to my mind now is: Please don’t forget us!

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Comments

Angela
15:02 Thursday.27 August 2020

Hi Madeleine and Belle the bookshop fairy. Your bookshop is lovely and I’ve noticed that you stock many titles that are not stocked in the bigger bookshop chains which is great! I’ve bought several of your online book subscriptions for babies and young children of friends and family. They all have been delighted with your apt book choices and the care you and ‘Belle’ take in wrapping them. It definitely is a ‘look forward to’ event every month for parents and children. You are doing a great job! Don’t become downhearted!

Barbara McGowan
15:02 Thursday.27 August 2020

Very knowledgeable assistant recommended books for my grandson on his recent visit -they were a great success!

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