‘Use it or lose it’ plea as dale bookshop marks 10th year
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
A COMMUNITY run bookshop in the upper dale is gearing up to celebrate its tenth anniversary by trying to attract more local customers.
The Village Bookshop, in Middleton-in-Teesdale, is well supported by visitors and tourists but is desperately lacking in dale support.
Volunteers believe this is because people living in and around the village don’t know what the full range of what is stocked.
Apart from a wide selection of new and used books, the shop also sells calendars, diaries, greetings cards, postcards, maps, gift-wrap and some stationary.
Volunteer Pauline Black thinks part of the problem is that the shop was started by the former vicar after the original privately-run bookshop closed down about a decade ago. She said: “The majority [of customers] are tourists. We don’t have many locals coming in. I don’t think a lot of locals know what we have in here. A lot of people think it is a church bookshop.”
Another aspect that few people are aware of is the charity side of the shop with the annual profits being awarded to worthwhile community projects that apply for grants.
More than £10,000 has been given to causes in the parishes of Middleton, Forest and Frith, and Eggleston, and most recently, £500 was given to support the redevelopment of the village playground.
Volunteers also want locals to know they are trying to fulfil needs left by the demise of other businesses in the village. Mrs Black said: “When the Post Office closed, we took a lot of its stock at quite a reasonable price.”
With about 18 volunteers helping out, the shop is able to keep regular hours and provides help to visitors when the Tourist Information Centre is closed. To this end, the shop stocks maps and walking routes which is valued by visiting cyclists and walkers.
As its tenth anniversary approaches, Mrs Black hopes The Village Books Shop will prosper for years to come, but warns local people it is a matter of “use it or lose it”.
She said: “It is not as busy as it was, but we are still making money and still giving money away and we will continue to do so for as long as we can.”