Update 5th Feb 2010:
Matt Wardman writes:
Today we have a victory: the last bookshop in the country to remain in control of J Mark and Philip Brewer, the Shyster-Charlatans who have taken hundreds of thousands of pounds from the chain, while abusing and exploiting staff, has been closed. It was in Durham Cathedral, and will soon be re-opened under proper control.
Durham Cathedral Sanctuary Knocker
Photo credit: Artiii on Flickr
This our most important milestone for some months, and we are pleased that Durham Cathedral have acted. As Dave Walker at the Church Time blog has put it:
The end of St Stephen the Great in the UK
The Durham Cathedral shop was the last remaining former SPCK bookshop run by the St Stephen the Great charity (SSG). SSG were given the bookshops by SPCK in 2006.
This is the full text of the notice at the Durham Cathedral website:
The Cathedral Shop temporary closure
The Shop which was managed by St Stephen the Great is now closed.
A new shop under the management of The Cathedral Chapter will open in due course.
Please check the Cathedral Website for the latest news.
(Posted on Friday 22nd January 2010)
No more comment yet, but we are all allowing oursleves to dance a small jig at this point.
However we are still watching, because there are the interests of the members of staff at stake here, and then there will be the small question of what sort of shop will be reopened.
Phil Groom writes:
We all know about the tooth fairies: you leave your tooth under the pillow, fall asleep, and in the morning your tooth’s gone and there’s sixpence (OK, showing my age…) in its place. In Chester, they have removals fairies, and they’ve paid a visit to the former SPCK bookshop:
|Empty shelves in the former SPCK Bookshop, Chester
(Photos taken Thursday January 21st, 2010)
We don’t know exactly when the fairies visited, where they’ve taken the stock or who’s got the sixpence: presumably the Interim Manager, and hopefully he’ll be using it to pay off some of the creditors. Never has the phrase “watch this space” felt more poignant…
I also have it on reliable authority that Wesley Owen Chester is scheduled to close its doors for the last time today, leaving Chester without a Christian bookshop. If you’re the praying kind, please remember Ian Vollands and the rest of the staff team in your prayers.
But perhaps the situation is not as bleak as it might seem? Chester is home to eden.co.uk, the UK’s (and probably Europe’s) biggest online Christian retailer, and they’re involved in discussions with friends and church leaders about the future of Christian retail in the city. If you live in the area and would like to take part in those discussions, you can request membership of the Chester Christian Bookshop facebook discussion group.
Responding to concerns that Eden might be branching out into bricks & mortar retailing, Gareth Mulholland, Head Honcho at Eden, said:
There are lots of creative ideas being floated around. They generally involve collaboration, community and shared ownership – none of them involve Eden.co.uk setting up its own bookshop.
Kudos to Gareth and Eden for taking this initiative.
Thanks as always to our intrepid photographer for the pics.
Disclosure notice: the link to eden.co.uk featured in this post is an affiliate link. If you use it and then proceed to make a purchase, eden will pay a small commission to the UK Christian Bookshops Directory. Thank you.
The call goes out to keep Jesus on the High Street
Phil Groom writes:
Thank you to Rebecca Paveley for a superb write-up in Saturday’s Times, p.100, outlining both the crisis facing and the future hope for the UK’s Christian bookshops: The call goes out to keep Jesus on the High Street.
And congratulations to St Olav Christian Bookshop, with their photo of opening day occupying centre spread in the article and featured as an example of the future shape of Christian bookselling:
Phil Groom writes a blog on the future of the Christian bookshop. He runs one himself at the London School of Theology which, despite having a guaranteed customer base, is still struggling. He believes the only future is for shops to be run in partnership with local churches as community hubs.
“Shops have got to be much more than just bookshops. They have to be destinations for community,” he says.
“We could ham up the guilt for Christians or local churches to get them to support us, but that would only work for so long. They have to realise that they need to work more closely with shops if they want to keep them.”
This model has led to one shop rising phoenix-like from the ashes of a former SPCK shop in Chichester.
St Olav Christian bookshop closed under the SPCK name in the summer but reopened four months later as an independent shop, with a board of trustees representing every denomination in the city.
The shop’s manager, Bradley Smith, says there is “every sign” that the shop will do well: “We have very loyal customers, we didn’t realise how loyal at first.”
More discussions about the future of Christian bookshops emerging shortly, hopefully, on that other blog Rebecca mentions: A Future and a Hope for the UK’s Christian Bookshops