George Street Community Bookshop

Community co-operatively saves bookshop to revive the high street and keep itself learning.

George Street Community Bookshop was established by a small group of friends in 2018 to help save the local second-hand bookshop. Its now run as a co-operative, staffed by 1 employee and a team of volunteers. To raise the required money for the lease and re-design the shop to be more accessible with people with mobility problems, the co-operative ran a share offer from November to December 2018. They raised £25,150 from 126 investors from the local community and beyond. Power to Change matched pound for pound from the Booster Programme, allowing the group to raise a total of £50,000, their maximum target.

“It’s been such a positive experience working with Booster. The flexibility and freedom of the Booster Programme is great”. Jonathan Atkinson, Director

 

How did they do it? 

When the local second-hand bookshop was going to close, a group of residents got together to see if they could keep the shop going, but be run by the community, for the community. They did a quick Crowdfunder campaign, raising £2,000 to cover start-up costs and begin business planning. They also ran public meetings to gauge the level of interest from the community.

A development grant from the Booster Programme helped them prepare for the share offer and be awarded the Community Shares Standard Mark.

The advice and support from the consultants were really useful. It was reassuring to have the kite mark and the match funding was absolutely brilliant as it makes a really good sell to investors. We raised the money we needed quicker and we raised more through community shares than we would’ve done via a loan. It’s great having all these members having a stake. They will be customers as well as members”. Jonathan Atkinson, Director

 

Making a difference to real people

The finance raised will help the society create a new entrance to the shop with no steps so those less mobile or with wheelchairs or prams can access the shop. A new and accessible toilet will be provided downstairs along with a dedicated family/child-friendly corner. More book browsing space upstairs will be created with new shelves. More local people will be able to buy books on all sorts of topics at affordable prices. In addition, a new book club will be launched, along with other events to ignite people’s imagination, learn new things and help build community connections.

 

Community led

George Street Community Bookshop is owned by 126 members who have all invested to save and grow the bookshop as a local community asset. Members have influenced the running of the community business (e.g. meeting with the architect on the re-design and new layout of the bookshop) and are kept up to date via regular newsletters, social media and by calling into the shop to say hello.

People come in and say with pride ‘I own a share in this shop’” says Steve, the Shop Manager.  “We’re a curious community that loves to read. We were overwhelmed by how many people wanted to save the shop and saw its potential. People said ‘I don’t come in often, but I want the option to come and bring my family or grandchildren to explore and learn”.