Southcart Books is No Longer Going South

Walsall’s only independent bookshop remains open after a strenuous period due to financial troubles. Southcart Books’ owner, Scott Carter explains how “it has been a very hard year. Firstly my partner Amy had a heart attack in April, then our beloved dog Charleigh fell very ill with diabetes in October.”

Vet bills put the business in jeopardy during October, piling up to a sum of over £3,000. Thankfully the Lower Hall Lane store that opened in 2014 has recovered what they lost as a result of bargain vintage books and sales.

With the support of “loyal customers, who we also see as friends” Scott and Amy Carter were able to create enough funds to keep their doors open for the Christmas period. Southcart Books will be holding their “annual Christmas party on the 16th December”, featuring a very special guest – Charleigh the Border Collie.

Charleigh the Border Collie who is suffering from diabetes

The diminishing number of ‘indie’ bookshops corresponds with the rising number of online retail websites. Luckily for Scott and Amy, their eBay store “is perfect for distant customers who can browse finer items.” When I asked Scott if he would consider moving his business to strictly online he said “we love our shop so I don’t think we would ever go fully online.”

The sci-fi and comic bookshop is the “only full time indie bookshop in the Black Country so this is a sad situation for our bookshop. People are attracted to our shop because we offer 1000’s of quirky books that are very hard to find”

Although “both are doing well”, it started as “what does Walsall not have?” which could now be gone. You can browse Southcart Books’ content online at: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/southcartbooks/

Alternatively, Michael McEntee (owner of) The Big Comfy Bookshop “started the shop long before” Fargo Village, “as it was online and on social media.” Having learned how significant the community is to keeping up an independent business’ success, the Big Comfy Bookshop is “a space where people can try something new and not just come in for books. People – that’s the answer.”

Coventry is home to over 29,430 students, so the demand to read and relax is two essential things to the city. “A bookshop is often the beating heart of a community and people need to use it to keep it beating, regardless of if they’re students, unemployed, a young family or an elderly man.” Much like Southcart Books and their sad situation, “it’s very important for the bookshop, for the community, for the survival of a culture that isn’t revolved around basement prices and prices alone.”

Click here for an interactive map of all the independent book shops in the West Midlands.

Merely 2 out of 17 bookshops in Coventry alone are independent according to Google Maps. If “bookshops aren’t just places where books are sold, they’re a whole lot more” then we have to ask ourselves why there aren’t more in the UK? “Birmingham, the UK’s second city doesn’t even have one. ONE! How can that be?”

The Big Comfy Bookshop will be reflecting upon their 3 years work “learning to make the new space work” at Fargo Village. Its music, games, networking and poetry events contribute to the expansion of both the business and location in the hope of attracting more students and booklovers to the unit.

 

Casey Baughan

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