This is the first in a series of posts about independent bookshops in Dorset. Once a month I attend a writing group in Wimborne led by poet, writer and teacher, Sarah Barr (you can find out more about the Wimborne Writers’ Group here). Last week I took the opportunity to visit Gullivers Bookshop, a family owned business in the centre of the market town run by Malcolm and Anne Angel and their daughter Jane with their son and his wife.
As I went into the shop, Malcolm was in the throes of dismantling the window display that celebrated Dorset Art Weeks from 26 May – 10 June, which comprised a collection of papier-mache heads featuring characters from books. With another community event approaching, it was time for a change. To celebrate 20 years of Bookstart, Gullivers is hosting a Busy Bear Party on 22 June and the new display will feature a teddy bears’ reading group. This engagement with the community is a feature of the bookshop that has been in Wimborne for over 40 years.
The shop feels bright and airy, well-stocked but not cluttered and an easy place to spend time. Displays by the entrance feature the latest fiction titles with further books on the shelves. There’s an area dedicated to Dorset’s people, places and culture and support for local authors (for a comprehensive list of publications click here). Thought has gone into organising the areas in an accessible way, for example, the young adult books have been positioned in a corner, away from the desk and the children’s section, to encourage self-conscious teenagers to browse.
The children’s section is delightful, decorated with mobiles and balloons. There’s Lego to play with and books for younger children displayed on shelves at just the right height. Children are welcome to chatter and play while choosing books, some saying that they ‘love the smell of the bookshop’.
Staff at Gullivers are already planning another event in the Wimborne calendar, that is the Literary Festival in November. This year it will be bigger and better than the first literary festival held in 2011. Workshops on poetry and prose are planned as well as author events to involve adults and children. There will also be a writing competition to encourage creativity. It is the aim of Gullivers to cater for everyone, extending a welcome to those who may not feel confident about entering a bookshop by reaching into the community.
Do you have a local independent bookshop that sees community engagement as a priority?