We have an old table in the front of the bookshop, and each week I change the display.
When we first had it, we just used it to show off particularly nice books but then I got it into my mind that we should have a theme.
My volunteer colleague does a fab job with the window – all sorts of displays and props but you would be surprised how many books it takes to do a good window display.
We don’t usually have enough books (well, good looking books,) to do the same table and window theme.
So, I started doing collections of books for the table.
Now the upstairs of the shop is scattered with random boxes of my collections. ‘Lucy’s boxes’ as they are known – when they are not being moved or cursed for being a trip hazard, in the way of getting to the clothes shelves……
The most popular books are good art books.
Once, and stop me if I have told this story before, we got a call from someone saying she was clearing out her parents’ home and there were a lot of art books which her parents had specified were to go to Oxfam. Could she get them delivered the next day?
They came in about 20 large black sacks and my heart sank. Black sacks usually denote books which (sadly) get moved from black sacks into our white re-cycling sacks. (We did get them gift-aided in any case.)
But no, one peer into the sacks and you could see these were just lovely, expensive, coffee table, and unusual art books.
We did very well indeed in sales from the table that week.
But most of our collections are gradually built after one or two books will spark an idea.
Of course, there was the First World War box which was slowly filled over nearly a year to get a really good display on the anniversary of the break out of war.
Then there was the rather obscure box of farming books that started with a donation from some gentleman farmer of certain years.
Included in that was a book on the history of the Ivel tractor. Yesterday, I took a call from a man who asked if we still had it because he had seen it and not bought it, been kicking himself ever since and now would come hot foot to buy it.
It had gone. And that is the way with charity shops, see it and buy it because if you don’t, it might never come in again.
We had a box for National Women’s Day – but I got the date wrong on the notices, thinking that it was the same day every year and infact it was three days later….
Last winter, we did a collection of ghost stories and you could buy a mug for 50p with every ghost story you bought.
We’ve currently got a box on the go about Time that started with a several books on clocks and The Time Traveller’s Wife, and is slowly building up nicely.
There is one on philosophy (not sure that is going to be a big seller,) and another on poetry (you can’t tell with poetry, sometimes it sells well and other times the books can sit there, looking sad, for ages.)
There is a box on landscape and maps. Maps, especially old and local ones are always popular and we had a donation of old London underground maps and an old book on routes across England with little contour maps, so I started a box.
And I’ve got two boxes of ‘old and interesting’ books that are all priced at £1. It turns the shop into a jumble sale for a few days but people love getting a bit of history for £1.
On the table as I write, is a collection of music books. The Annie Liebovitz coffee table book of photographs of musicians sold as I was just putting it out.
And the lovely Peter Rabbit Music Book, (that I found at the bottom of a pile of piano books for grades one to six dating from the 1980s and destined for a white sack, sorry), is worth about £20 and hopefully will be sold before I’m next in the shop on Monday.
I have an idea for a box on Speed – racing cars, steam engines, Jamie’s Meals in 15 minutes……