Bookshop owner frustrated at lockdown closure while WH Smith and Poundland can sell books
- Credit: MARTIN BOTT
An independent Felixstowe bookseller is frustrated that she can’t open during the Covid-19 lockdown - yet nearby WH Smith and Poundland are free to sell books.
Helen Bott runs Treasure Chest Books with her husband Martin. It is one of the county’s best-known second-hand bookshops, with a huge stock of around 60,000 books.
Mrs Bott said: “At the weekend, there were a lot of people out in Felixstowe during the nice weather.
“They couldn’t come into our shop, but they could go to buy books from WH Smith or even Poundland, which has started selling books.
“It just doesn’t feel like a level playing field. I am standing behind a locked door and can see people going into other shops which are selling books.
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“This is at a time when small businesses are trying their hardest to survive - and we are losing trade at our busiest time of year, in the run-up to Christmas.”
MORE: Which essential stores are open during lockdown? Mrs Bott added: “Don’t get me wrong, the other shops are doing nothing wrong. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be open.” She said she also wouldn’t want to see a situation like the one in Wales recently, where shops were having to close off aisles.
The government has issued a list of “essential retail” which can stay open during England’s second lockdown. This includes food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences, bicycle shops and pet shops - but not bookshops.
MORE: Majestic wine shops to stay open as ‘essential retailers’ in lockdown’However, Mrs Bott said books have played a very important role for many people during the coronavirus pandemic. “I would say books are essential to people’s mental health. All the evidence is that people are reading more during lockdown, and getting a lot of comfort from books.”
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Along with other shops, Treasure Chest has taken extensive coronavirus safety measures, including using hand sanitisers and ensuring social distancing, so she felt it would be safe to open.
Although Treasure Chest cannot open as normal during lockdown, it is offering click-and-collect and delivery services, and appealing to customers to support it.
For more details, visit Treasure Chest’s website or search for “Martin Bott Bookdealers at Treasure Chest Books” on Facebook.