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The Bookcafe-"Chapter Two"

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

After a few weeks at Raj's we had built the takings upto £50 a day, not yet the dream but at least we could pay the rent & reinvest in other pieces of equipment like a computer.

One stifling hot summers day, in our condemned corner of Celanese road, a young gentleman without a shirt on but with a can of Tenants extra in one hand & a dog on a rope in the other walked in & claimed the end was nigh & it was World War 3, or words to that affect. Turned out it was the attack on the World Trade Centre, September 11th, 2001.

As shocking as this was on its own, little did we know how this might affect our business later.

One day soon after, Clinton Cards informed us they were ready to a deal on the York shop they didn't want. I say a deal, it was the remaining 10 years of their lease at £60k per annum, £38k rates per annum, full insuring & repair, with an upwardly only rent review every 5 years,

non negotiable & personally guaranteed.

Our solicitor pointed out the dangers, several times & still we ploughed forward.

Our house was only worth £30k at the time & we had reservations that our current daily £50 sales would be enough of a guarantee for 10 years of £60k rent. Why do it? I hear you cry...

At the time high street retailing was monopolised by the big boys & girls, opportunities for start ups on the high street were un heard of. So with a deep breath we ploughed on.

The moving in date was set & now we had to execute a massive closing down sale using all the tackiest marketing skills we had learnt from our ex employer. Out came the white emulsion & in a true bargain basement font painted CLEARING OUT & CLEARING OFF all over the windows. (in hindsight, perhaps channelling my inner anger). Sales went through the roof, suddenly we were doing hundreds of pounds a day, they we were eating through our stock like locusts. We were having to buy more bargain stock, we were loving it, they were loving it, one guy said it was the best shop he'd ever been to! It was now the last day of trade, It was amazing, suddenly we weren't playing shops anymore, we were heading for the big time.

We locked up for the day, went to congratulate ourselves for a good job well done, at the local Toby Carvery, planning to return the next day to pack up & say goodbye to Raj's forever. The morning came, slightly subdued but still suitably impressed with ourselves we pulled up out side the shop. The windows had been completely smashed, the shop had been ransacked, the computer was gone & stock & spinners had been thrown into the middle of the road. Reality check number 2.

To be continued.........

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