By Betsy Everett
A once notorious but much-loved secondhand bookshop in the centre of Hawes is set to change hands again, exactly three years after current owner Meg Davis took charge.
“It’s been a wonderful three years and I’ve had real pleasure from running it, but the time has come to move on,” said Mrs Davis, who took over from previous owner, Steve Bloom, in September 2017.
Mr Bloom made national headlines when he began to charge customers 50p to enter the Old Library bookshop, and customers complained of his rudeness.
“That’s all behind us now,” said Mrs Davis, who dropped the entry fee and established a friendly and welcoming atmosphere in the shop which once housed the public library in the popular Dales market town. Some of the original shelving remains.
The shop was forced to close in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but now it is back on track, turning over £2,000 in July, its first fully operational month of what is proving to be a busy summer season.
“It’s such a wonderful asset to Hawes, I feel it would be a real shame if it couldn’t continue as a bookshop.
“If I can’t sell the stock, however, I’m going to take the books with me and maybe even open elsewhere” said Mrs Davis who is planning to move further north.
She paid tribute to Mr Bloom, her controversial predecessor.
“He was a real expert and knew an awful lot about books. Much more than I do. I don’t have a background in books, and I want to stress that that doesn’t matter at all. I have learned a lot, I’ve met some really lovely people, and I have excellent landlords.”
Despite modern technology, “real” books are still hugely popular, she says. Her stock comes mainly from local people, some wanting to sell, others to donate, or from the auction which in normal times shares the Market House space.
Among her treasures are three volumes by Northern wood-engraver Thomas Bewick, and a collection of leather-bound Rudyard Kipling books. They sit alongside modern and classic novels, cookery books, biographies, “but no ‘top shelf’ books,” says Mrs Davis firmly.
Graham di Duca, chair of the Market House trustees, said they were hopeful it would remain as a secondhand bookshop but would consider all offers.
“The income from the shop helps to maintain the Market House as a community space at the centre of the town’s life, so it’s really important to Hawes,” he said. See the website for contact details at http://www.hawesmarkethall.co.uk/