The Bookcafe - "Chapter One"
Updated: May 31
After 22 years we've come along way from Toasted Tea Cakes.
From our humble beginnings in a temporary condemned corner shop once known as "Raj's of Spondon" the Bookcafe was born.
Just before the Millennium we left our high flying, well paid jobs as senior managers in a national retail chain to take the leap into setting up our business. At the time The TV programme "Friends" was just getting big, "You've Got Mail" was the new film at the cinemas and Amazon had yet to make a profit. eBay was launching and no-one in Derby had heard of a Greggs. Looking back it's amazing to think of how times have changed.
We purchased 50 pallets of clearance books & toys from a well known mail order company & found temporary storage facilities in the back of a disused corner shop that was in line to be demolished for a new housing estate. In the meantime we were negotiating on a lease in York city centre on an old Strand cards unit now owned by Clinton Cards. Clinton cards had bought the the small chain to speed up it's expansion plans but were closing all the little stores they didn't want, so we naively said "we'll have it!"
Whilst Clinton cards considered our offer (ignored us) for over 6 months, It made sense to resurrect Raj's of Spondon, as Bargain Booksellers & sort out our pallets of glorious gems & bargains. We had not had an income for a few months & panic was starting to set in. Lisa got busy creating merchandising marvels of stock & I was ripping out stockroom shelving, painting them black with blackboard paint for our point of sale (something to sell off) on the shop floor.
The stage was set, I'd made the outside signage, again out of plywood, blackboard paint & chalk board pens. The tiled floor had been mopped, mopped & mopped again to dilute the intense smell of 25 years of Asian spices. Lisa had found some amazing bargains in the pallets from books on How to Garden by the RHS & Bread Making by the WI to Singing fish on plaques & Adams family walking hands at ridiculous low price points.
We got a good night sleep a got up all excited, ready to open our new venture like real life entrepreneurs. The doors were open at 9am sharp and we waited for the customers to come flying in. We waited & waited & waited. 6 hours later we mopped the floor again & went home without a single sale.........to be continued...
Introducing our Latest menu.....
It's not just any old eggs Benedict...........