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The Shakespeare Hospice Bookshop, Stratford-Upon-Avon

posted on 20 Mar 2016

The Shakespeare Hospice Bookshop, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Located in Rother Street in Stratford, just beyond the outdoor market area, this is one of the bigger charity bookshops and seems to be very well resourced. One of the reasons that this shop is such a great place to visit is that the premises are pretty ideal for a bookshop in terms of layout - something which probably boils down to the fact that this was a well established bookshop before it was vacated and the charity took it on.

There is a very imposing double fronted window (and being located opposite a large public car park) the shop has a wow factor and the staff do a good job in keeping the window displays lively and well stocked. The downstairs is three rooms deep and the children's books, which are located in the in the back room, are, for me, the strongest examples of their stock and are very sensibly priced.

There's also a pretty copious upstairs which can be accessed by two narrow staircases from different parts of the ground floor. The music section has recently been relocated up there and now has a specialist room of its own - which I think is a very good and positive move. As always with charity shops that are dependent on donations, the overall quality of the stock is variable - but they do ensure that only stock in pretty good condition is represented on the shelves.

Whilst this shop is a real treat to visit, there are a couple of issues that I personally find a bit irritating. For reasons I can't explain, they have tried to introduce a small cafe in the second downstairs room and I just don't think this works. It disrupts the flow of the shop and I have never seen anyone taking advantage of this facility. It feels like dead space to me.

The upstairs needs, in my view, to be opened up and made more accessible. The shelves upstairs are too densely packed in the centre of the floor and they don't need to be there - the stock isn't strong enough to merit this. The collectibles section is rather weak and if there is going to be one, more care needs to be taken over the quality in that section.

These are largely quibbles though. It's a good shop and one well worth a visit the next time you plan a trip to Stratford.

Terry Potter

March 2016