This month, we’re off to the Cotswolds and the wonderful Borzoi Bookshop. Established in Stow-on-the-Wold in the late 1970s, the bookshop has recently moved down the road to new premises and has an exciting new look. We spoke to bookseller Aloÿse about this move, their varied customer base and the shop’s canine companions from over the years…
1. The Borzoi Bookshop has been an integral part of Stow-on-the-Wold for more than 40 years. What do you hope your shop brings to the local community?
Over the years there have been huge changes in the shops in Stow so the first thing I would say we provide is continuity. The only shops that have been here longer than us are the chemist and the butcher. We now have grandparents, parents and children from the same family visiting us, and although this makes us feel old, we know that they feel very comfortable and at home in the shop. We have a good relationship with the local primary school, and we deliver books to the old people’s home and to the surrounding area. We have recently taken part in a new venture – Stow Art Week – which was a combined event with all the galleries in the town. Lastly we are delighted to be the box office for Music at Stow which has a series of concerts throughout the year. We were very touched at the response by the community to our move. We were showered with gifts and cards and it was very humbling to realise how much we are appreciated by this community.
2. How did the name The Borzoi Bookshop come about? Tell us more about the shop’s four-legged friends from over the years.
The Borzoi was named after the two Borzoi dogs who lived in the original shop set up in the 1970s. The shop has always had dogs. Anthea came to work with Bubbly, then Tike the Staffie joined the team and now Brock, the Jack Russell terrier, is in charge of meeting and greeting. He was happy to move from Church Street as he rather enjoys visiting the other shops in the courtyard. He is much loved by tourists missing their own dogs and is constantly being photographed; he has recently been featured in Bertrams Booktime magazine.
3. Back in April, you moved premises. What was the reason behind the move and how have the past few months been?
The old shop in Church Street was rented and the owners wanted to sell the property, so we made the big decision to move elsewhere. We closed in Church Street at the close of business on Saturday 30th March and opened again on Monday – 1st April! We couldn’t quite believe we had done it and it was hugely exciting to welcome the first customer! The regulars love our new premises.
It is light and we have a completely new look. We have the most lovely shelving made especially for us by an amazing local craftsman. He tolerated our indecision, and guided us through the pitfalls of easy access, lighting and positioning of the shelves. We have seen a rise in footfall and we have been thrilled with the response to the new premises by customers and tourists.
4. With the shop based in the Cotswolds, you must get an exciting range of customers, from locals to tourists from all over the world. How do you stock your bookshop to appeal to your varied customer base?
A very good question. Our customers range from those who live here all the time, to weekenders from London and tourists from indeed all over the world. When we are ordering books there are particular customers we have in mind who cover some of the categories. We trawl the lists looking for unusual books you would not usually find in a country bookshop. However, we must also remember those who want a memento of their visit to the Cotswolds so we have a selection of local photographic books – large and small. There are wonderful gardens and houses to visit so we stock coffee table books about these and the village of Adlestrop (Edward Thomas and Jane Austen) is close by so we have a good selection of poetry and literary books.
5. And finally, do you have any exciting plans for the shop that you’d like to share with us?
We hope to build on the increased footfall and actively encourage children from the local primary school to come and visit us. We have a new member of staff who was a primary school teacher and a librarian who we hope will help in our endeavours to reach out to children. As Chipping Campden Literature Festival continues to grow we will be supporting this fantastic event with our pop up bookshop. In the past few weeks we have set up a new website – please do take a look!