To me, a high street simply wouldn’t be the same without the presence of an independent bookshop because they are so much more than just a place to buy books. Wenlock Books is a bookshop whose heart beats for the community and whose soul brings joy to all who pass through the door. But it’s not just the heaters that fill you with warmth as you enter the shop (grade 2 listed buildings can get jolly cold you know) but also the beaming owner, Anna (almost certainly the kindest person I know), and the lines of happy customers.
I love every day that I spend working in the shop but my favourite day of the week by far is Friday. Every Friday morning at 11am, the shop fills with the pitter patter of tiny little feet as we welcome families in for Storytime.
Upon arrival the grown-ups are greeted with a freshly made hot drink (which is often met with a sigh of relief) and the tiny children scream with excitement as they are reunited with their equally tiny friends. Once everyone has arrived, Anna takes her seat and starts to read.
I was quite nervous the first time I worked on a Friday morning because I was concerned that I’d make all the toddlers cry, causing the mums to hate me and mock my tea making. Luckily that’s not been the case and I soon found out that the Storytime mums are the most welcoming and friendly people that I’ve ever met. I also discovered that toddlers have much more important things to cry about than me and that a rice cake usually fixes everything.
The joy and happiness that is shared by everyone in the shop on a Friday morning is because we’re able to offer something so special. Anna has the opportunity to spend an hour reading to eager children; parents and grandparents are able to relax knowing that their toddler is safe to play with the toys and books to the sound of the Gruffalo; and customers throughout the rest of the shop are treated to tiny voices (and some bigger mummy voices) singing nursery rhymes and squealing with delight. It’s truly the most heart-warming accompaniment to everyone’s day.
It’s important that we support the gems of our high streets so that events like Storytime can be enjoyed by children in years to come. Without Wenlock Books, Much Wenlock would be left without our children’s Candlelit reading on Christmas Eve; without children’s Reading Group; without Poetry Breakfasts; without the Reader’s Retreat; without book launches; and without all of the other events which are provided by this fantastic independent bookshop.
It’s not hard or time consuming to support your local independent bookshop. So often we make purchases that we later come to regret; if we shopped more wisely we could not only keep independent shops on the high street, but also give gifts that we really value.
So many of the treasures that you can find at Wenlock Books are handmade or local, making them that little bit extra special. I know that as someone who works in an independent bookshop my opinion may be biased, but the opportunities that have been afforded for my self (my apprenticeship and allowances to work to suit my health) and for others (Storytime is my favourite example!) simply would not exist if Wenlock Books weren’t here. It really is important that we keep our local bookshops thriving because without the heart of the bookshops beating, our high streets will lose their sparkle forever.