Mel Griffin, an indie bookseller based in Wales, tells us why she's feeling optimistic for the future.
When did you open the shop? The shop itself was opened by my predecessors in the year 2000, but I bought it upon their retirement in September 2014, so have just passed my 4th anniversary!
How many books do you have on display at any one time? Between 4,000 and 4,500.
What type of events do you hold? We hold a wide range of author events including large scale events with household names, smaller more intimate events with debut or emerging authors, poetry readings, author visits to local schools and children’s drop-in sessions. We also run three book clubs, two for adults and one for children.
What are the key things that make a good bookshop? An interesting selection of stock, well displayed in a pleasant and welcoming environment, and outstanding, personal and knowledgeable customer service.
What have been your best-selling titles this year? Our fiction bestseller for the year by a mile has been Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. For non-fiction it’s Poverty Safari and for children, The Meltdown (Wimpy Kid) by Jeff Kinney.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the book trade? Optimistic! We are seeing a trend of people returning to the printed book, and returning to the traditional bookshop.
What advice would you give to someone considering opening a new bookshop? Do it! Seek advice and support from as many other booksellers as you can – we are a very supportive bunch and I myself received lots of encouragement when at that stage. Choose the location very carefully – it makes a huge difference. Then put your own stamp on it, select your stock and off you go. And (from personal experience), don’t try to do too many new things all at once. Introduce changes and new ideas gradually and let them bed in before moving on to the next one.
What has been your best/worst bookselling decision? Best – buying the shop in the first place, and building up my current fantastic team of staff.
Worst – can’t think of anything major; I make small mistakes in buying, display or pricing all the time but at the end of the day I am answerable to no one but myself, and I learn from experience every single day!
What are you reading at the moment? My book club book: Christmas Books by Charles Dickens, a collection of five shorter works including A Christmas Carol. The last thing I read purely for pleasure was Normal People by Sally Rooney, which I loved.
Which shops give you bookseller-envy? So many - Mr B’s in Bath and Booka in Oswestry spring to mind. And I’d love to have my own café and bar like Book-ish in Crickhowell!
How does Batch help your business? Batch is an absolutely essential tool for us. We pay the vast majority of our invoices via Batch, and I’ve introduced the approach of having my team check and authorise invoices for Batch payment at the time of receiving the goods, so that the whole process is completed in one hit and there is no major month end payment process to go through.
It’s also invaluable for managing returns – again we submit most of our returns requests via Batch (from Gardlink, our stock management tool), and this automates the request, approval and stock adjustment process, thus saving us a lot of manual effort.
9A Windsor Road
Penarth CF64 1JB
Tel: 029 2070 6455