It’s been a rollercoaster of a week. Decent quantity of books, and a new trolley, stolen on Monday. Lease for the shop came through the same evening – that has been verified by an external adjudicator, signed and went in the post this morning. Strange phone call that has ended up giving me a good deal on electricity supply for the shop – I think! All sorts of people ringing me up, cornering me in the street, contacting me in various ways, warning me of all the pitfalls, criticising this and that, or hoping that I will be able to use the shop to benefit them in some way. Some of the latter I will think about, some I won’t! Hey, I’ve done all the hard work, it is, as someone said to me this morning, my train set, and while I am generally quite good at being a soft touch, I am working on how to say no!
But the main thing is the lease, which is now signed, and I have a shop! An address! I have already added the address to the Tree House website. Tomorrow evening a sofa is being delivered, thanks to Freegle and a friend with a van, and more furniture has been promised or suggested. Lots of fun things ahead, like buying a computer and a till (have always wanted my own till, since playing shop as a small child!), arranging the space and sorting the books, lots of non-fun things too like opening a business bank account. It’s a pretty steep learning curve, and at times feels terrifying.
But the day has arrived – I have premises, and all the ideas and dreams and plans now have a foothold in reality. The shop is 5-7 Abbey End – what used to be the Cats Protection shop, and the Job Centre before that – it now has the Job Centre sign over the window, that will be changed in due course!
There has been a fantastic amount of goodwill, encouragement, moral and practical support along the way, for which I am extremely grateful. A few special thank yous, though. First and foremost to my friend Ben, who started the whole thing off by asking me one day last autumn what I would really like to do with my life…and this is the result. He’s been a brilliant sounding board along the way, as well as providing practical help, and many of the ideas encompassed by the Tree House are his. To Richard Davies, now chairman of Warwick District Council, who responded to the online survey I sent out in November by arranging a meeting – once he became interested, the whole thing took off, as he provided me with contacts and all sorts of suggestions of where to look for help. He put me in touch with Zoe Court, town development officer, and Charles Smith, property adviser at Boston Fieldgate, who have both been fabulous. Andy Jones at Town & Country, who has been using the premises up to now as a showroom for his lovely furniture, has also been fabulous. I could not have got this far without these excellent people.
It is already a community venture – lots of people have given books, or have contacted me to offer help in various ways, people really rallied round after the news of the theft earlier in the week, and I know so many more Kenilworth people through all of this. The market stall has been a lovely experience, despite the hard work involved (I have now given that up to focus on the shop). I still can’t quite believe what’s happened, let alone what is about to happen, but somehow it is all true.
I am sure the rollercoaster will continue to roll up and down, but I’m getting a bit better at hanging on when it plummets downwards. Not a lot better, but a bit! I am not sure when the shop will open, it all depends obviously on how long it takes to convert the space and get it all ready, but you will see signs of activity in the shop if you are passing that way in the next few weeks. I’m starting to get some events lined up, and hope to transfer the Film Club there in due course, but for now I need to paint, put up shelves, sort out the utilities and stamp a lot of books. I like stamping things.