One year on - how Wymondham community run bookshop Kett’s Books is going from strength to strength
It’s been a year since 20 strangers met for a drink in a Wymondham pub, desperate to save an iconic bookshop under threat of closure.
And 12 months on, the dedicated team of volunteers has seen their vision unfold - with the community run Kett’s Books now a thriving addition to the town’s independent trade.
But up against the clock and with a lack of funds, it took a leap of faith to get the project off the ground.
Tracy Kenny, one of the organisers, said: “We all thought it was a terrifying prospect that Wymondham wouldn’t have a bookshop. But it was a very brave thing we did because we didn’t know each other - we were persuading people to get unsecured loans. We were agreeing to work together in a field that none of us knew based on goodwill.”
Meeting for the first time on September 17, it was just two months before they formed as a company and just four before they opened shop in Wharton’s Court in January.
Pitching in with skills picked up in previous jobs, the group of volunteers, ranging from teenagers to those in their seventies, planned, marketed, decorated and bought “all the books we could,” according to director Lorna Daymond.
But despite a rocky start, 70-year-old Mrs Daymond insisted the risks weren’t a worry.
“I just knew this was meant to be so, no, I wasn’t nervous at all,” she said.
Since then, they have gone from strength to strength - with a popular book club, a string of visits from successful authors and a steady stream of trade.
But, according to Mrs Daymond, sales figures aren’t top on the list of priorities.
“A main part of reading is about the conversation - we can say that the books on our shelves are there because a customer recommended it, or a member of staff loved it,” she said.
“Our key message and idea is that we want to grow readers - to give more to really capable, accomplished readers, but we’re also here for the woman in her fifties who has only read one book because she’s dyslexic,” 42-year-old Mrs Kenny added.
But Mrs Daymond, who has lived in Wymondham for 30 years, said that the shop’s future is always uncertain - and urged those living in the town to make the most of it.
“We are always wondering, ‘can we still do this’ and then we look at the books, and the answer is yes - so we keep going.”
For now, the shop’s future looks bright. They have a junior book club in the works, high hopes for grant funding and a visit from children’s author James Mayhew on October 1.
“It’s going well - I spent a lot of my time here but it’s been so worth it,” Mrs Kenny said.
For more information, contact the shop on 01953 603663.
Do you have a Wymondham story for us? Contact reporter lauren Cope on Lauren.firstname.lastname@example.org