‘Just remember what was yours is everyone’s from now on…’

Many of you will have heard by now that we have to vacate our current premises by the end of December.  Six weeks is not long to find an alternative, and the likely scenario is that we will have to close temporarily – I hope, at least, that it will be temporary.

It is going to be difficult to find new premises that are suitable and that we can afford, but we want to try – there is still so much I want to do at and with the Tree House Bookshop, and things have really started to go well in the last three months or so, with lots of exciting things planned for next year.

Most importantly, there is a wonderful community of people who use the Tree House regularly, who have made friends with each other through it, who contribute so much to what it has become.  It would be very hard to break this apart!  The bookshop can downsize, and it can always still be a meeting place however small, but the events we have run – the film nights, the music gigs, the recently-established open mic nights, the lectures and more – have been crucial to fostering this sense of community, and we need a big enough space to continue to host these events.

So we are looking for new premises in Kenilworth.  In the meantime, we are going to spend our last few weeks at Abbey End making the most of what we have, and doing a bit of fundraising so that we have as strong a financial position as possible when it comes to securing a new site.

When we first opened, a friend gave me this lovely song by Wilco as my signature song, and one that seemed appropriate to this venture of setting up what many thought was a crazy idea.  Who buys books?  How will it ever work?  It turns out that (as I always knew) lots of people buy books, and it works because it draws people together.  Much of the main street of Kenilworth is taken up by restaurants, charity shops and estate agents, and we have been able to offer something a bit different in the centre of town.

Local independent businesses are closing all the time, and we are sad to be the latest to be forced out.  But the idea itself of the Tree House is working, it’s not that we are leaving because we’ve failed – and while it’s hard to stay positive at times, I keep thinking of this song and all it has meant, and I still believe there will be a way for us to carry on.

We will stay open late on Friday 28 November for the Christmas lights switch-on in Warwick Road, so call in and see us!  And come to one of our events – open mic on 29 November, Folk Night on 6 December, It’s a Wonderful Life at Film Club on 18 December, Haddo at Christmas on 20 December and more…look at our Events page for more information.  Hope to see you soon!

If you feel like singing a song…

Tree House statement design v2Some of you already know this, via Facebook and/or Twitter, but in the light of much moral support and the green light from the landlord, I have decided to keep the Tree House open.  It’s not going to be easy – for me personally or financially – but it seems the right thing to do, and sometimes I find myself capable of doing the right thing!  Not always…but I do think this is the right thing.  I could spend weeks weighing up the pros and cons and not achieve a rational answer, but I’ve always been someone who goes with their heart, and while it often gets me into trouble, it is simply who I am, and I’m slowly – painfully slowly – learning to accept that.  Others may have a harder time accepting it, and I fully understand that!

We have a great little space in the heart of Kenilworth, and now that the decision has been made, I am thinking hard about how to make the most of the Tree House as a venue – more on all of that later.  I need to be bold, I think.  One of the things that decided me that the Tree House needed to continue was the Big Comfy Sessions that have been filmed there (a few more in the pipeline too).  These are a temporary feature, until Michael McEntee opens his Big Comfy Bookshop at Fargo Village in Coventry at the end of September (very exciting!), and the Tree House has just been the venue for the recordings, but they have shown me the potential for cool and groovy things that the Tree House has.  We need more cool things happening!  Musical or otherwise.

I will also resurrect the Film Club, which has languished since my right hand man in that venture left in January.  There is still a huge void there, as I am a bit rubbish when it comes to films, and I miss the input of a knowledgeable, passionate, energetic person (who also had a great collection of films to share with us!) – but I have a longish and pretty varied list of films I plan to show (from Mary Poppins to Les Amants du Pont-Neuf with all sorts in between).  We can’t afford to renew the licence yet though, so that’s the next target!

I also have offers of help with poetry nights and open mic music nights, and am working on getting some more musicians to come and perform.  But I also want to shift the balance a bit, and start some more literary things.  The focus of the bookshop needs to be bookish – it was set up to counter the anti-intellectualism I see in society, and I want to find creative ways to do that.

We are also increasing our commitment to charity.  We are non-profit, but we haven’t made any profit yet, so have not been doing much in terms of giving to charity!  But we had a coffee morning for Helen Ley Care Centre earlier this month, and have carried on with a collecting tin – the day of the coffee morning raised £120, and if we can keep doing little things throughout the month, we can at least give this sort of amount monthly to charity.  In July we will be supporting Zoe’s Place baby hospice in Coventry, and in August it will be the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance – again, more in later posts.

More significantly, I want to ally the bookshop to the Woodland Trust.  There is lots to say about this, but in the longer term, that’s the charity I want the bookshop to support.  I shall wax passionate at another time, but its aims are intrinsic to the ethos of the Tree House (there is the word Tree in the name for a reason!).

I am rambling, so will shut up.  So much to think about and plan, not least how I am personally going to survive financially and emotionally!  But the Tree House really has already become a lovely social hub, a community of caring, friendly, committed people, who want to help the place to thrive.  I really think it can thrive, and with their help, I am sure it will.

A friend gave me this song about a year ago as the bookshop’s signature song, and it still encourages me to keep going forward during the dark times.  Thank you Ben.