I’ve been living my dream job since 1987. Back then I worked in my parents’ bookstore on weekends and school holidays. I couldn’t think of a more perfect environment to start my working career.
Over the years we opened and closed many stores throughout Sydney, including North Sydney, Carlingford, Bankstown, Merrylands, Blacktown, Mount Druit, Ryde and Rhodes. Out of all of them, Bankstown has been our longest running store. Opened in 1993, it’s been through many alterations, including 2 refits, a name change from Angus and Robertson to Your Bookshop, and a location shift.
We were right in the thick of Harry Potter sweeping the planet, introducing millions of otherwise reluctant readers to the magical world of Hogwarts; teenage girls swooning over Twilight’s vampires and werewolves; and women getting hot and bothered over Fifty Shades of Grey. More recently the rise of Adult Colouring books reminded us of the need for mindfulness.
We championed our home grown Aussie authors with zealous pride. We were active participants in the epic rise of Jasper Jones, The Happiest Refugee and The Book Thief.
I loved it all. I loved the smell of new books, straight out boxes; loved pressing a book into a customer’s hand, knowing it would be the perfect fit for them; loved organising author events, especially when it involved school kids. I even loved my regular feuds with ICE Design clothing when they played their music too loud or spruiked outside our store.
The bookstore has been a big part of my life. I was dating my now husband when we bought the shop. When we had our children, we brought them into the store on Saturdays. Their little fingers searched under the shelves for books that had fallen. In exchange for retrieving the trapped books, they could choose a book for us to buy. Later when they were old enough to work behind the counter, they paid for their own purchases. I still get a fuzzy feeling in my belly when I see the delight in their eyes when their favourite author releases a new book. I firmly believe it was those regular trips to the bookstore that instilled the love of reading in my children.
That’s all coming to an end on June 26th. We fought to keep the store open, negotiating over the rent, changing the mix of the store to introduce Pop Vinyls, Charlie Bears, hand-made propane-free soaps, and high quality Ravensburg jigsaw puzzles. But in the end the economic reality won over and we’ve agreed to surrender our lease.
I can barely speak the words, without my throat closing over.
I see the look of disbelief on my customers’ face, and it takes all my strength to stop the flood of tears. I’m incredibly touched by their concern for me and the other staff, whether we have another job to go to. One of our school accounts said she was ‘gutted’ we’re closing. With Collins closing in Roselands there are no bookstores in the immediate area. I can’t help thinking what that might mean for the future generation of children growing in the area? And what will be the cost to the community without a passionate bookseller pressing a book into their hands, or championing a new voice in the Australian literature. Will their kids grow up with the same passion for books? I guess time will tell.
I like to thank the Western Sydney community for all the happy years. Thank you to the parents who brought their kids to our store; to the schools and libraries who shared in our passion to instill the love of reading; the Sydney Writers’ Festival for including us in their Children’s Program; the many wonderful Aussie authors; and of course you, the reader.
I’ll leave you with the following happy snaps of staff and authors who shared in our adventure over the past few years.
Who can you spot?
I love hearing your thoughts, memories and anecdotes on your favourite bookstore. Many of you have have shared your feeling with us through Your Bookshop and Banafsheh Serov FB pages. Please feel free to also share them in the comments section below.