News of Bow Books Opening Rings out over Royston…
For some years, unfortunately, Royston’s retail sector has been somewhat in the doldrums with many of the cherished old favourite stores falling by the wayside. Consequently, public interest in the town centre had dwindled, with large numbers of the hitherto faithful customers exiting to Letchworth, Stevenage and beyond to find a better choice of shops.
Suddenly, and happily, the pendulum appears to be swinging in the opposite direction once again. Over the last year or so the town has witnessed a definite improvement in its retail facilities.
It was the Market that saw the first uplift in Royston’s new found fortunes. The current Market Manager, Rob Mills, has worked hard to secure interesting tenants for the various stall sites and has successfully re-established a very energetic looking trading area on Market Hill.
Very aptly named Revolution Records on Melbourn Street with its exciting new and used selection of vinyls has encouraged extra footfall from outside of Royston, and Ellie James’s expert floral touch at Bloom has brought a new dimension to floristry in the town.
Likewise, Kelly Da Silva Fernandes has set up her Kitchen in Kneesworth Street producing her delectable own brand of cupcakes.
It was early this year that Ronnie Adams upgraded her boutique business, La Bella Vita, by moving from the Corn Exchange, which she had been formerly trading in since 2015, to a swish new site on Melbourn Street, where she has greatly increased her range of trendy ladies clothing and jewellery.
Now, for the first time in 30 years, Royston can boast a further significant addition to its independent retail sector in the form of a professional bookshop once more, with the 76 year old owner re-emerging from semi-retirement.
Paul Bowes, who owned the Book Castle in Dunstable for 25 years and was also a local interest publisher there, used to supply Royston’s original bookstore which, ironically, stood opposite where Bow Books has newly opened in the former Holland and Barrett unit in Angel Pavement. This exciting shop has everything the serious reader requires and much more.
Paul has equipped his exciting outlet with a well balanced mix of new and used publications for both adults and younger family members. There is a separate children’s ‘den’ hidden discreetly behind the main part of the store, in an attempt to ween youngsters off of their phones for a while and absorb their time with one of the many juvenile titles available. Also prominent is a section devoted to books of special local interest, which many customers have never before seen.
Upstairs is the Folio Lounge which not only houses special editions but is spacious enough to double up as an art gallery, currently displaying work from the local art society, and photographic club. Equipped with a small coffee machine it is homely enough to encourage customers to linger, relax and, of course, just read. It can also be used for author talks, meetings, and book groups, something for all of the local community. A local book group is already meeting once a month here.
Bow Books has all the facilities of much larger stores. It proudly announces that it price matches Amazon’s main site on all pre-paid orders placed in-store for any book in print. It also highlights that there is a ‘Three for Two’, not only just on thousands of second hand titles, but on all children’s books. As if this wasn’t sufficient, a customer loyalty scheme abounds on an intriguing selection of new adult books, with many at special prices.
From the moment the new store was first publicised there was excitement in the air, and on the day of opening, Paul was prompted to open two hours earlier than predicted with a queue of eager customers, determined to be the first citizens to sample a long awaited new store in Royston. However, this was nothing compared to the following Saturday when the famous and popular author, Jeffrey Archer, turned up to officially launch Bow Books, ably assisted by Paul’s grandson, Bertie, and Royston Mayor, Cllr Lisa Adams. Swarms of intrigued individuals packed into the store to have either their newly purchased Archer novel, principally his latest paperback Next in Line, or like Mike Leary who brought along his first edition hardback of one of Jeffery’s early publications, Kane and Abel, to be signed. The author valued the book at several hundreds of pounds.
Jeffrey was his usual affable self and was in no hurry to leave, pausing to chat with everyone that presented a book for his signature. Both Paul and Jeffrey compounded all of their energy into generating a fascinating aura of genuine pride and professionalism into that day which resulted in a memorable time for everyone present.
Like a magnet, Bow Books continues to attract a steady flow of satisfied customers, and is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm, opening an hour earlier on Saturdays.
The store is situated at 6 Angel Pavement Royston SG8 9AS, next to the Market Square and a spacious car park which is available each day with the exception of Wednesday and Saturday. There are other car parks in close proximity.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.bow-books.co.uk Phone: 01763 793279
Article and photography Clive Porter