Ahead of Borderlines, Carlisle’s book festival, I thought I’d post about secondhand bookshops in my own neighbourhood.
This is one of the charity bookshops that I currently volunteer in. We have a small retail space whose shelving must work hard. The stock is therefore always in pristine condition. A lot of Carlisle’s middle-aged and retired men seem to be very keen on history, sometimes coming in to discuss the stock in groups of 2 and 3. We have 2 whole book modules history to satisfy their hunger. We also do a brisk trade in 12″ vinyl (“hey geez, got any more Stone Roses?”).
We get some fantastic quality specialist books donated in first edition hardback. This means that our vast complex of rooms above the shop allow us to list all sorts of obscurities on our online shop. It’s incredible what interests readers. We even do a great line in old recipe booklets that originally came with cooking appliances in the 1970s and 1980s. “What?” I hear you cry. Well, you’d be surprised at the kinds of things that can fetch respectable prices. In the last 3 years I’ve sold so much clothing, housewares and books online that I’ve learned how important it is to balance informed judgement with suspended judgement.
Some customers ask about rare titles as though we’d have them in stock in our shop space. Incredibly, sometimes, we do! But usually, of course, we don’t; we’re dependent on donations, and have little shelf space to play with. However, I direct them to the Oxfam Online shop. This is where every Oxfam shop in the UK is connected together under one search engine and can ship those rare titles within days of your surprise in finding it! Nearly all our shops, like ours in Carlisle, has online stock for shipping out by post and courier. Did you know that? Well, remember this: and pass the message on.
One thing we’re really proud of is our window displays. We have several volunteers who take the trouble to pull out some notable stock and write up some cards. Passersby stop, look, and some of them pop in to investigate some more. We once pulled off a real showstopper with a collection of books on and by Derek Jarman. How likely is that in a charity bookshop window?! To get to our shop, turn off the main drag in Carlisle city centre, or English Street as it’s officially called, and go down Bank Street. Simples. The postcode for Google maps is CA3 8HG. Enjoy the festival!
If you’re visiting Carlisle, you can browse even more secondhand books at Bookcase.
There’s a Discover Carlisle site for anyone interested in non-book attractions, such as places to stay, and most importantly, pubs!