A NEW family-run bookshop in Wellington has been "really encouraged" by the local community's support in its first few days of business.

Bookshop by the Blackdowns served its first customers on Friday, November 26, and its owners are looking forward to a busy festive period.

Richard D’Rozario, who runs the shop with his family, enjoyed a 36-year career teaching English in comprehensive schools before launching the shop, and his wife is still working as a teacher.

"My wife and I have always been passionate readers, and we’re both educationalists," he said.

"I’ve dealt with books and readers every day of my career, and my wife continues to teach.

"Coming out of the lockdowns, we were aware of the upsurge in reading nationally.

"We were also aware from reading the trade press that Kindle sales have gone down, but physical book sales have gone up.

"So, we thought, ‘If we’re going to do it, now would be a propitious time to do it'."

He added: "If you’ve got a dream, you should see if you can capture that dream when you’ve got an opportunity."

Richard and his family have lived in the town for 10 years and live only a short walk away from their bookshop.

"My children have grown up in Wellington, studied in Wellington, and we know people here,” he said.

"We wanted to be part of the regeneration of the high street movement."

Somerset County Gazette: NEW BUSINESS: Bookshop by the Blackdowns served its first customers on Friday, November 26NEW BUSINESS: Bookshop by the Blackdowns served its first customers on Friday, November 26

They started promoting their new business on social media at the end of October and have had the keys to the shop for around two weeks.

Richard and his family have been "really encouraged" by the support they have had from the local community.

He said: "People have been absolutely encouraging, supporting, and overwhelmingly kind.

"We’ve had really encouraging footfall.

"One of the decisions we had to make was whether people would just go online and buy their books, but what we’ve found – at least initially – is people do want to come in, they’re happy to browse, they want to support local, and they are happy to order books through us."

Somerset County Gazette: BOOKSELLER: Richard D'RozarioBOOKSELLER: Richard D'Rozario

Bookshop by the Blackdowns offers a wide selection of literature including fiction, history, nature and wellbeing, biography, food, and home.

Young adults are also catered for, as are pre-schoolers and young readers.

"We’re a small, independent shop, but our range is carefully curated and handpicked, and it’s very eclectic," said Richard.

"There are some things you might expect, some popular things at the top of the bestseller lists, but there are also more niche things.

"We try and keep a bit of everything and, if we haven’t got it, we have a service whereby we can get it within a few days."

Somerset County Gazette: INTERIOR: The family received the keys to their shop around two weeks agoINTERIOR: The family received the keys to their shop around two weeks ago

In the run-up to Christmas, the bookshop has already seen people buying books for family members, with children’s books selling particularly well in its first few days.

Richard said: "Books are beautiful things as artefacts, and lots of people think about buying them as Christmas presents.

"Our picture books have done terribly well, and they are beautiful things – some of these books have wonderful covers, so we're really encouraged."

Richard and his family are aiming to put on events such as author signings, book clubs, and writing clubs in the future.

"Ultimately, as we get into the new year and things grow, we’d like to liaise with community groups and local schools and interact with their literacy programmes," he said.

Somerset County Gazette: NEW INDEPENDENT: The bookshop in in South Street, WellingtonNEW INDEPENDENT: The bookshop in in South Street, Wellington

Bookshop by the Blackdowns is located at 2 South Street, Wellington.

It is open from 9:30am until 5:30pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and from 10:00am until 3pm on Sundays.

The bookshop's website will launch soon. 

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