This month we make our way up to Scotland, and chat to Simon from Kesley’s Bookshop in Haddington about what it’s like to run an independent bookshop in a small community just outside Edinburgh.
1. What’s your favourite thing about being an independent bookshop in a small community, and what are the main challenges?
Having been an independent bookshop for over 25 years we have seen many changes. The one thing that has not changed is the friends we have made. Be it the stonemasons who did all the work on our building or local authors they all became customers/friends. Haddington is a county town with both Primary and Secondary schools over the years we have seen children go through the entire education spectrum and in some cases supplied books right through to their University days. Sadly we have seen customers pass away or move on. The one thing that concerns me is our lack of appeal to a younger generation.
2. Have you found that stocking a range of products – not just books – has expanded your customer base? What kind of products does your customer typically go for?
We do carry a varied stock of non book items. Art supplies, cards, journals, gift stationary, pre-school children’s toys and games, family games and a huge range of jigsaw puzzles. In particular we stock the Pomegranate range of Artpiece puzzles which tie in well with Yale’s art books. In the final quarter of the year we always stock a vast range of calendars/diaries especially fine art images. We have built up a reputation of having a large and varied choice and people return year on year to view and purchase calendars.
3. Are there any local artists/manufacturers you support in store that you’d like to tell us about?
Being part of the local community we have built up relationships with local authors, artists who produce fine art cards, Art groups who have annual exhibitions . We have a strong association with Haddington concert society who stage world class concerts as well as supporting local musicians. Several years ago they raised a huge amount of money to purchase a Bosendorfer piano and although I am no expert I am told this is a Rolls Royce concert piano. We handle ticket sales for a number of other community events also.
4. Do you have a particularly busy time of year being close to Edinburgh? Does The Fringe bring more people to Haddington?
The forth quarter of the year is by far our busiest time. We do get some spinoff from the Edinburgh fringe but more from the Edinburgh book festival.
Take a trip up to Haddington to visit Kesley’s Bookshop!