There is a wonderful support programme for independent bookshops throughout the UK and Ireland run by the Booksellers Association and generously funded by the Unwin Charitable Trust. Launched in September 2017, the idea was to assist small, independent high street booksellers by funding free, professional advice from highly experienced booksellers. More details here.

How does it work?

Many booksellers operate in relative isolation and have limited opportunities to discuss their business plans, the mentoring programme will provide an opportunity for the bookseller, to chat through ideas, concerns or thoughts with a fellow bookseller in the strictest confidence. In complete confidence, booksellers are able to discuss plans and develop ideas for their business without requiring time away from your shop or sending staff on costly courses.

Is this a programme for me, you might ask?

Whether you are thinking of developing your bookshop, planning a major project, perhaps adding a café or even moving premises, the opportunity to seek suggestions and receive clear personalised advice is available to you free of charge and at a time and place that suits you. If you are looking to stabilise the existing business, are seeking merchandising strategies to help you boost sales and cash flow or need some practical ideas to turn your business around, then you can talk things through with one of our insightful and discreet mentors and seek their advice. An initial phone call will enable you to briefly explain your query and we will then arrange for our mentor to visit your bookshop. You will have plenty of time for discussion in total confidence and, after the visit, our mentor will prepare a bespoke report with recommendations for improving profitability and success.

Who Are the Mentors?

There are four mentors on the programme. Myself, Patrick Neale co-owner of Jaffe & Neale Bookshop in Chipping Norton, Nikki and Mark Thornton, former owners of Mostly Books in Abingdon.  It’s hard and probably scary for us to say how many years’ experience we have in the trade. What we do know is that between us we’ve opened bookshops, closed bookshops, sold bookshops, held events with hundreds of authors to just one in the audience and that’s been in my case, my Husband. We’ve won awards, we been heavily involved in committees at the Booksellers Association, we’ve sat on industry panels and best of all we tons thousands of books to our customers. Suffice to say that if between us we cannot answer your query we’ll know someone who can.

How do you apply?

Complete the form on the UCT website and Margaret, the administer will respond acknowledging your request. She’ll pass it onto one of us who will then contact you direct. Initially we are likely to chat over the telephone to establish your request and then arrange a bookshop visit afterwards. Website form here.

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