We didn’t have to go too far away for the latest retail spotlight. We caught up with local award-winning independent bookshop, Booka. They are long-time fans of Newgate and a stock a range of our wall clocks and alarms in their bookshop / cafe. We chatted to founder Tim to discuss all things books, coffee and clocks.
After its initial launch in 2009, Booka has established a reputation as an independent destination shop. Known for their high-quality authors, choice of gifts and community focus, Booka offer customers a unique shopping experience. Born from Tim’s passion of books and Carrie’s desire for a career-change, the couple decided to open the bookshop-come-café in their home town of Oswestry. In 2015 Booka received the accolade of UK & Ireland’s Independent Bookshop of the Year, making them one of the leading independent bookshops in the UK.
Read on to find out more about the husband-and-wife led store.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Tim, I own Booka bookshop in Oswestry with my wife Carrie. We live in Shropshire with our two children. Carrie and I opened Booka just under 10 years ago after both needing a change from our jobs; Carrie was a teacher and I worked in town planning.
Tell us about your shop / business
Booka is an independent bookshop and café, offering a range of high-quality books, gifts, stationery and homewares (including Newgate clocks). We also host high profile events with best-selling and celebrity authors. 2017 saw the expansion of the bookshop to provide an additional floor of retail space – and a much-needed office and storage area for us.
What inspired you to start the business?
Reading has always been a big passion for both of us; but we didn't have a local bookshop to find our favourite authors. So we decided to open our own! The opportunity sort of fell into place, Carrie was ready to give up her teaching job and the retail space became available. We just had to go for it!
What kind of products do you sell?
Books, gifts, stationery and homewares. Plus, we have an onsite café offering tea, coffee and cakes; this is where we host our events too. We offer customers the ultimate shopping experience, that just can’t be bought online. Carrie and I also work closely with local schools, libraries and other organisations to promote a passion for books and reading.
How did you discover Newgate? Why did you choose to stock the brand?
We have a couple of Newgate clocks in our own home. When we decided to launch the shop, I attended an event at the NEC where I met Chloe. We realised how local the brand was and decided it was the perfect fit for the shop. Newgate products are good quality, well-designed and aspirational. Booka is about discovery, we stock products that our customers didn’t know they needed!
What do you love about your town?
Oswestry is a great place to live, work and do business. There are some great local brands and organisations for us to partner with. And there’s always more to discover…
What advice would you have for other would-be boutique owners?
Be distinctive and focus on the shopping experience. Don’t worry about the internet, give people the best retail environment possible.
What is your Newgate best seller?
The traditional alarm clocks always go down really well with shoppers. The Fred alarm has been a great seller in the past, after that, the colourful Echo collection filled the best-seller gap. This season we predict the new M Mantel clocks will be a favourite.
What are your favourite Newgate products?
We have four Newgate clocks in our house, plus, Carrie and I both have a couple of Newgate watches each. I really like the Mr Edwards large brass wall clock with the petrol blue dial, this hangs happily in our kitchen. My favourite watch is the silver mesh watch; The Blip, with a reverse black dial. Carrie also has a Blip, but she wears her petite-dial watch; the Atom, most days.
Thanks for chatting to us Tim. Next time we’re in town, we’ll pop and see you!
Find out more about Booka at www.bookabookshop.co.uk