A small independent bookstore in Southampton in southern England experienced an unexpected wave of support last weekend. Since the operators of October Books they could not afford the rent of their previous shop, they were desperately looking for people who would help them with the move. Although the new premises were only 150 meters from the bookshop's previous location, moving the books from one store to the next was a big task for the team of five booksellers.
Therefore, they asked the residents of Southampton for help on their website and their social media channels, and counted on a handful of helpers. But on the day of the move, over 200 people gathered to October Books to support. Therefore heavy boxes did not have to be towed. The volunteers simply formed a human chain and submitted the books one by one so that more than 2,000 books could be brought to the new premises in the shortest possible time.
Among the helpers were children and pensioners, some had been a regular clientele for years, others had recently discovered the store. But they all wanted to support the little shop. "It was really a positive surprise and a very moving experience to see how people get involved to help us," said Amy Brown, one of the booksellers of October Books opposite the US radio station NPR. October Books was founded in 1977 and is a nonprofit organization. In addition to children's books and fiction, the shop also offers non-fiction books that deal with issues such as social justice or political issues.
Help through crowdfunding
The community came to the bookstore as early as spring to help, as the new rent increase was announced and the operators had to look for new space for their books. Crowdfunding brought together over £ 300,000, from which Amy Brown and her colleagues were able to buy a vacant bank in the same street where October Books was previously home. In future, rising rents will no longer be a problem for the bookstore.
In times when local bookstores are increasingly being pushed aside by corporate giants like Amazon, and each year fewer independent bookstores can hold their own, support from local residents for October BooksWhat important role small, owner-operated bookstores have for the local community?