Saturday, February 25, 2012

One Year Ago

On Febraury 24th 2011, I wrote this post. We were struggling pretty badly to pay the bills at the time and things were not very jolly at the shop. I also put our plea on Twitter and on Facebook.
The result was absolutely phenomenal. Over the next few weeks the outpouring of generosity towards the shop was quite simply incredible. As the story of our plight went global, amazing things started happening. We had donations from all over the world from people who hadn't even visited the shop but empathised with our position, we suddenly had hundreds of new customers coming through the door, our online sales were staggering, and events were organised by other people to help raise money for us.
It was blinking bonkers brilliant.
But something else happened too. Something rather special. We realised that there were lots and lots of people; our customers and now our friends, who had always come in to the shop and bought their books from us rather than anywhere else, who totally believed in us. Who cared so much about the shop that they would go out of their way to make sure that we survived.
We heard stories of a woman standing outside Boots, further up the road from us, shouting about our shop and telling people how important it was that people bought a book from us. Local Residents Associations shared our tale of woe to their members. We had visits from people every day who said that "lovely loyal customer' insisted that I come in and buy a book from you".

What happened was that we got our belief back. More accurately, we were given our belief back. The 9 months before our appeal had been hard. Very hard. We worked our socks off to keep things going but it didn't seem to be working. We began to think that maybe, what we were doing wasn't what Wood Green wanted. That maybe the Big Green Bookshop wasn't what people wanted.
But it seems that you wanted us to stick around.

Before we opened we took out a £60,000 bank loan. Last week we paid the final instalment of that loan off.

Thank you. Thank you so so much.

I know that without a doubt we have the greatest customers in the world.

We will be 4 years old in a couple of weeks and we thought that we should really throw a massive all day party in the shop to celebrate getting to this milestone. So keep your diary free on Saturday March 10th cos we're gonna whoop it up. x


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen you for a long time Simon, or communicated, but I have followed your progress from time to time and have always believed that if anyone could make the Big Green Bookshop a viable concern it would be you and Tim with your passion for books and your committment to the local community.

I congratulate you on reaching the milestone that represents the paying off of your loan and wish you continued success

Giuseppe di Lampedusa

Ellie Levenson said...

We'll be there

artslondonblog said...

So glad things are going better.Kel (who helped paint the shop when you opened) and I are living in Japan at the moment,but missing good English language bookshops.What you have done (and the way you have done it) is amazing.

Ruth (love it) said...

Fantastic story of wonderful customers inspired by a great bookshop. Good on you & your partners Simon. Here's to many more years.

Booksballsandbusiness said...

That's an inspirational post! Well done and good luck for the future.

We have just had a smilar experience in North West London where a small furniture cooperative was threatened to be demolished to make way for an electrical substation for Crossrail.

The Big Table shop, which makes wonderful handmade beds on site, has been there for over 30 years, but was threatened with closure by a compulsory purchase order from Crossrail.

A local campaign got underway in the autumn, we collected over 3,000 signatures for a petition to keep the shop open and secured cross-party political support to keep a thriving small manufacturing business going. Research was undertaken into the history of the buidling which is over 100 years old and was originally built as a tea shop for the workers on the Great Western Railway.

Two weeks ago Crossrail announced that they had reviewed their plans and no longer required the building to be demolished. Big Table have another 10 years of their 40 year lease left and can finally move on after eight months of stress and worries.

The positive outcome of the campaign has been the incredible local support which has taken the shop owners by surprise and the community spirit that has developed. It is amazing what can be achieved when people come together with a common goal.

Nicola Morgan said...

Does it mean I'm pathetic if that post made me a little bit teary?

Hooray for you and your customers!