The idea of opening a bookshop had been in my head for around 9 months. Back then, I’d perhaps committed 50% to it in my head and started learning about how it all works. The key was finding a space in my town for it to live, for a good part of the dream was to run a shop in the village I called home. I wanted to make a positive impact here.
Then suddenly, last week, all these ideas were real. After a long gestation period, the actual building and setting up felt startlingly quick. I’d cleverly (read: foolishly) built the opening weekend around the first weekend of Easter, but this also happened to be not only my daughter’s fifth birthday but my own too.
So Thursday night was a late one of getting the stock as neat as possible, double checking the computer till worked and mildly cursing I’d not had the time to add many of the quirky touches I’d first thought of all those months ago. But when it came down to it, being able to sell books was the important part!
Friday was out of bounds due to the little one’s birthday, so I returned Saturday morning half fearing all the shelves would have collapsed or some highly literate thief had broken in and taken all my books. But all was well.
Friends and family arrived with cake. A trickle of curious new customers grew into a tidal wave as the day went on. If only for the opening day, I was glad I had gone for a fairly open and spacious layout. People happily wandered around. Many expressed their gratitude for their finally being a bookshop in Jedburgh. Children filled the dedicated kids section, drawing, playing and exploring the reading nook; I was glad for the time I’d put into completing it during that final week.
It was pleasing too to hear such positive comments for our stock. Deciding the opening stock for a bookshop is really hard, certainly if you have no prior experience. We wanted to cover a fair few bases, in terms of genres, types of book, price-point etc and find that balance between things we personally love, things customers may recognise and the thrill of the unexpected. We seemed to do ok with that on opening, with us selling fairly evenly across the shop.
If I could do it all again, I don’t think I’d change much. The important thing was the early acceptance and understanding (prior to opening) that not only would it not be perfect on day one but also that it will naturally evolve anyway. The thing that drives that evolution is the presence of customers and the lessons we learn from how they engage with the space.
In terms of people calling in to visit us and their kind purchases, it was fantastic and has only bolstered our confidence to do our own thing. Here’s to week two!