How Twitter and kindness saved this struggling bookshop

Covid lockdowns and the cost of living crisis have massively altered UK high streets.

Over 17,000 shops closed their doors for good in 2022, with independent retailers – many of which are the lifeblood of local communities – hit hardest.

Consumers, however, aren’t prepared to take these changes lying down.

Sapphire Bates, owner of Book Bodega in Ramsgate, Kent, posted an appeal to Twitter this week, after a quiet few months threatened to shut the seafront establishment.

‘Winter is killing us,’ wrote Sapphire, alongside a picture of the empty store. ‘It’s soo quiet and we need to make £800 by Tuesday to pay our bills.’

Within hours, celebrities including crime writer Ian Rankin and presenter Sue Perkins had shared the post, and it’s now been viewed by over six million people.

‘I felt completely overwhelmed by the response,’ says Sapphire. ‘I was so shocked by everyone’s support. The love that’s been shared for independent bookshops was so beautiful and has given me so much faith in the future of bookshops.’

They haven’t accepted any donations – all this is down to the power of people buying from a small business.

However, some took the opportunity to buy book vouchers which will be passed on to local charities, including Cliftonville Community Centre in Margate that helps struggling families in the area.

Book Bodega is now in the clear for another month thanks to the generosity of those on Twitter. Summer also brings tourists, which hopefully will give the shop the boost it needs to keep going throughout the year.

Sapphire adds: ‘I’m really confident, thanks to everyone’s kind words and support that there is a future for Book Bodega (and all Indy bookshops).

‘I’m really excited to keep going.’

Order online from Book Bodega via Bookshop.

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