Meet Helen Stanton the owner of independent bookseller Forum Books in Corbridge.
There has been a Forum Books in the village for 50 years, but I took over 10 years ago following a career in publishing.It was always my dream to own a bookshop and when the opportunity to buy the business came up I jumped at the chance.
Our vision is “There’s nothing quite like a book and nothing like a real bookshop” and I really feel that is what we have created, an inspiring space for people to browse and enjoy choosing books. We moved into our current building, which is a fabulous former chapel, 3 years ago and we are now also opening a new shop in Whitley Bay.
How have you had to adapt your business during Coronavirus?
It has been a real challenge. We didn’t really have much of an online offer before Coronavirus so we quickly had to develop a website where customers could still buy their favourite books.
I have actually been amazed at how well our online offer has been going, not only have our regular customers followed us online but we have also been able to reach a much wider audience and now have customers from all over the country.
It is a very different way of doing business and nothing can replace that face-to-face contact with customers where you can talk about books and make recommendations, but we have been working really hard behind the scenes to make sure we continue that close relationship with our customers.
We have also been able to run a lot more virtual events, which again have been supported locally and further afield, and this is something we definitely want to keep going, as well as going back to physical events in the shop when we can, as we have really missed them.
Many of our older customers, who aren’t online, have been sending us lovely letters with lists of books they would like to purchase. It really has been quite overwhelming the support we have received from customers and has shown us that we are more to some people than just a shop.
Our vision is “There’s nothing quite like a book and nothing like a real bookshop” and I really feel that is what we have created, an inspiring space for people to browse and enjoy choosing books.
Why should people Shop Local?
Coronavirus has shown people the importance and the connection between shopping local and helping to support the local area.
Independent businesses work really hard because they genuinely love what they do. The customer service that we can offer and the way we run our businesses is done with a lot of heart and often we are supporting local charities and schools as part of what we do.