A photograph popped up on my Facebook page a few days ago and I was immediately transported back to my childhood. Seed and Gabbutt was a well-known shop in Blackburn. The shop opened in 1907 after being set up by brothers David and John Gabbutt and a Miss Seed. It was a traditional business in the town alongside the likes of Mercer’s Ironmongers, Grey’s Outfitters, Edmundson’s Furniture and, my favourite of them all, Reidy’s Music Shop. If you have any other favourites, let me know!
I loved the shop. It was a place to browse the books and usually come away with a handful of new stationary. If they didn’t have something you needed, it would be ordered for collection. The Darwen Street shop had more specialised art materials and it was equally as popular.
For me, there’s something magical about a bookshop. It’s easy to let the rest of the world disappear as you browse the hundreds of different stories. Yes, you can do this in a library, and take books away for free, but I value my book collection and I love adding to it.
Yet in recent years, the number of independent bookshops has declined and enticing customers through the door has become a challenge. Quirky and unusual, offering an experience that online ordering cannot possibly replicate, seems to be the way forward. This, alongside a high social media presence, has served to keep bookshops afloat.
When my first book was published, I could have left it all to the online retailer, but I purposely looked to independent bookshops as an outlet. I wanted to support small businesses and offer readers who shun internet ordering to make a purchase. I am delighted that Fred Holdsworth in Ambleside and Number 10 in Clitheroe stock my novels and the short story collection.
It was from Fred Holdsworth that I bought my college text books in the late 1970s and I was so proud to see my books on his shelves when we visited Ambleside last year. How lovely it would have been to see them on the shelves at Seed and Gabbutt!