The Bourne Bookshop on North Street is celebrating its third birthday after opening six months before lockdown


A city bookstore that opened just six months before the first nationwide Covid lockdown is celebrating its third anniversary.

The opening of the Bourne Bookshop on August 31, 2019 fulfilled an ambition for owner Karen Smith and husband Peter.

The independent shop got off to a great start and coincided with its launch at the Bourne CiCLE Festival.

The Bourne Bookshop has been in business for three years, having opened just months before the first lockdown. Owner Karen Smith (second from right) with employees, from left Charlotte, Wendy and Alice.

“I had been thinking about starting a business for a while and it seemed ideal to try because I love books and reading and there was no bookstore in Bourne back then,” Karen recalls.

“The town was full of people for cycling and the store was very busy so we had a brilliant start and they came back.

“Things were going really well until March when everything ground to a halt because of lockdowns.”

Karen took phone orders and home deliveries to help the business survive and it has continued to grow.

“When we reopened, everything was going well,” she added.

“Our customers were still there and remained loyal to them. They were absolutely amazing.

“And I have great people working with me – I couldn’t do it without them.”

Going up against online giants like Amazon seems daunting, but independent shops have their perks.

And social media has actually helped, with lots of spontaneous requests from younger readers looking for writers who are trending on TikTok.

“When you go into a store, you can browse and see something that you might not necessarily find if you type into a search engine,” Karen said.

“And nothing beats a personal recommendation.”

The North Street store celebrated its anniversary with a week of deals on books, games and puzzles, and Karen feels in good enough shape to tackle the latest corporate challenge – the cost of living crisis.

“The last few months have been challenging and trading conditions have been tested as people need to prioritize other things, but we’re just looking forward to getting through it and moving on.

“It was really nerve-wracking to get started but I’m so glad I made it despite Covid – it’s a great thing to have made it.”


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