THE HASLEMERE Bookshop welcomed customers through its doors for the first time in four months this week – after putting in place stringent measures to ensure it is Covid-secure.
When they reopened last month on Haslemere High Street, staff initially set up a table in the doorway where they were able to bring the books to the customers, minimising movement around the store.
However, they have now taken the next steps and have reopened their doors fully again – something staff have been preparing for.
Speaking to the Herald about measures they have put in place and the importance of their customers, owner Ian Rowley said: “Some of the measures we’ve brought in include hand sanitising on entry so the books remain virus-free, a screen round the counter, card payments only and making sure there are only a certain number of people in the store.
“We know not everyone may feel comfortable coming back to the high street just yet so we’ll be continuing to offer free delivery in the area (GU27).
“We’ve had great support from customers throughout though despite this pandemic.
“Not just our loyal and regular customers, but many new ones too, even from European countries like Germany and Denmark.
“Fortunately for us, the amount of book reading during lockdown seems to have increased and we are so grateful that people have ordered from us.
“Customers have been so happy to see us back on the high street now and generally everyone’s been understanding of our new way of working!”
However, the pandemic has inevitably had an impact on bookstores around the country – and many will have been grateful for the government’s green light for reopening in the middle of last month.
They will now be looking to make up for lost time – and the bookshop is optimistic about its future despite the major impact the virus has made.
Ian added: “Business is not exactly booming but it’s certainly heading in the right direction.
“In the first full month of lockdown sales were down 90 per cent on 2019.
“In May, we saw our online and email sales growing and in June we were able to sell from the shop door which made things a bit better.
“Browsing will give us another boost but we don’t expect sales to return to normal soon.
“However, bookshops like many independent businesses are very resilient and creative and our customers have been very supportive – because of that we will still be around when the pandemic has gone away!”
During lockdown, the independent retailer has been in contact with The Bookseller’s Association – a network of independent bookshops which has enabled the Haslemere-based business to interact with other booksellers across the world and see how they are adapting.
This has provided great comfort to the people within the Surrey business – and during the store’s adaptation, they have put staff well-being at the top of their priorities as well as the customers’.
It has also struck up a highly successful partnership with Wizzbits toy shop in Midhurst, and now offers toys and games for collection from the shop.