Monday, 18 January 2016

Harry Potter Book Night!

We're very happy to say we'll be once more hosting the Harry Potter Book Night! Last year Bloomsbury asked bookshops, libraries and schools to celebrate the books by holding their own event, so we took the plunge and put one on. Nearly 100 people attended! We were told by Bloomsbury that the second is on it's way so we've got our thinking caps on and have already got lots lined up. Please put February 4th in your diary. We'll be opening our doors at 5pm for 3 hours of magical spells and potions. Although aimed at children, the event will be open to all with adults able to get in on the action too.
It'd be lovely if you could dress up. We'll have crafts and colouring, quizzes and games plus more to be announced. At the bar we'll be serving home made (by The Weasleys) Butterbeer and Hagrid's rock cakes, with more coming.
The event is completely free but according to the Facebook group we already have over 500 interested so come early.

Please add yourself to our Facebook event as we'll post updates, plus fun things on there. Go over HERE.

See you then.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Happy New Year to all!

I'm back in the shop. I've just spent a few hours with a broom not knowing how it works but the shop looks neater. Ali took the decorations down on Tuesday so I didn't have to walk into that mess. I hope you had a great festive time. I 'turned off' for the entire period and am only now looking at emails. There are lots. Lots and lots and lots. So obviously, I'm carrying on tidying and then writing blogs and stuff. So what's in store for the shop this year?
Firstly our events are being even more streamlined. We'll only be holding them on Thursday and Fridays. Here's how it looks...
1st Thursday of the month Fire and Dust Poetry
1st Friday of the month  Big Comfy Folk Club
2nd Thursday otm  Retro Game Night
2nd Friday otm Board Game Night (excited about this!)
3rd Thursday otm Comfy Film Night
3rd Friday otm Big Comfy Folk Club
4th Thursday otm New Book club
4th Friday otm open for Fago Roller Disco.

These are all in the diary for the year. Some are new, some are re-jigged, some are the same. I'm really excited about the Board Game Night. When setting up the shop I always wanted one but had no one to run it unless we played Cluedo every month. Tea and Tabletop are a new Coventry company who show and sell some amazing boar games both classic and unknown. I started to love board games after watching Tabletop with Wil Wheaton and am sucked into it so I'm excited to play some new ones!
The film club is back too. Although we scheduled 4 films to show last Autumn, we didnt show any due to both personal reasons and just lack of drive. Well I'm jumping on board once more and will screen at least 3 (once a month) then see how it is. The 1st is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on Jan 21st. I'd love for someone to design a poster if you can!

Our Retro Game Night and Folk Club are in the mix too with not much change. I'm always looking for other one off things though if you fancy running something. Also, the room is now for hire, so if you'd like it for your own party or conference or medieval jousting contest then we can talk.

We're also starting a book club in the shop. Lots have asked so I'm delivering, like a belated literary Santa.

I'm going to attempt to add all the events onto the event page now. Attempt.

Once more, may your year be filled with love and literature.


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Music and books

Lots on this weekend. Friday 11th we have the EP launch from Stylusboy (tickets here) and Saturday 12th we host Kerry Hadley-Pryce for a book signing of her novel The Black Country at 3pm.

We've got lots of books (like, thousands) plus a cafe bit too.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Christmas time is a magical time

I'm sat here with Christmas music on the stereo and our window display about to be tackled. It's coming! Anyway.
The shop was shut last week (mostly) as I was struck down with gastroenteritis. I'm not one to mooch off and whine so I was well and truly ill. Three days shivering and not sleeping left me rotten. I returned Saturday as we had the amazing Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker here for a sold out gig, but the day trade was also hectic, the busiest for some time. From 3 days of doing nothing to 15 hours running around hit me hard, so much so that I decided to close Sunday too. A few more days rest and I'm up to 80%, maybe 83%. We're open again anyway.

Yesterday we hosted the final Palestinian Film Night at the shop. The Coventry Friends of Palestine showed 'Miral'. It was a very informative piece of work and I urge you to seek it out. It's got Willem Defoe in it at one point.

We're also hosting our regular Retro Game Night to night with fellow Fargo Village tenant Entertainment Bro. These nights are always well attended and great fun. Tonight I think Dan is dusting off an Atari so that should be fun!

Into the new year, I'm hoping to make every Thursday and Friday an 'event night'. See the event pages and social media for more up to date stuff.

On another note our Big Comfy Sessions have hit a high point with BBC Radio 2 folk award winners Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, plus the excellent Ange Hardy recently sitting on the sofa. I love doing these. I basically give them tea and ask them questions whilst Ron from Redwood Photography does all the hard work. Rich of @Mr_Spoon also does stuff but no one really knows what.

On the Folk Club side you can now buy tickets for the next 5 months! Some have already been snapped up through til March so have a look who's here and pick them up. A great Christmas Present idea.

Finally, I've been asked a lot on twitter if our bookshop mugs are for order. Well now they are! We can do international shipping too. Just see the new shop HERE. There's also a new tab at the top of the website.

Be back soon as promised in my last post. In the meantime, catch me at @bigcomfybooks, on facebook and please sign up to the mail list.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Let's get personal

Hello my name is Michael and I run a bookshop.

I've spent a while today and yesterday looking at what made me love the idea of a bookshop, and what made me enjoy blogging about it. What I've found is I've become a lot more businessy with it all. I think one reason, probably the main reason, that the shop started so well is that it was all me out there, chatting, blogging, social media-ing, rather than a faceless businessman. Over time this has been worn away a little. The day to day running, organising and general promotion takes up most of my time and I think I've left a lot more of 'me' out of it. I'm hopefully going to be bringing this back. I haven't exactly gone all professional with a sharp suit, but a lot of tweets, blog posts and general stuff is more, well, businessy.

I thought it'd be nice if I wrote a little recap of year 1 as this is overdue, and also what's to come from the shop and from me in the near future. This might hopefully give you an idea of who I am and what's been going on.

First off the start was obviously overhwelming. 10k people in a weekend was amazing. This slowed down and just after last Christmas it actually almost stalled. As well as the bookshop being a new business, the whole of Fargo is new too so there were and still are many things to overcome, figure out and generally get better at. But over time things have started to pick up. It was Mothers day this year that things changed for me. Previously I was taking part in a lot of events at Fargo. Trying to fit the displays with the weekly or monthly theme, saying yes to a lot of things just so the word of the bookshop got around. It all helped sure, but to a cost as I was so weary and worn out. I'd worked from Aug 4th through til Christmas eve with just Mondays off (apart from 10 days when my son was born!) and then picked up again on Jan 4th and worked through til March the same. I was burnt out. I always wanted music here but from the start I had way too much. I had around 2 gigs a week, plus poetry, gaming and whatever people asked. I was a yes man. Spending up to 14 hours in a bookshop then going home to a crying baby wasn't fun. One week I remember working around 80 hours.

Anyway, come Mothers day I was supplying the wine for the mothers day tea in the hall. I said yes as I wanted to help out. I was thinking of Fargo as a whole rather than the bookshop first. After some confusion the wine on offer wasn't that which was advertised and a few people got upset about it. It was this that broke the camels back. I run a bookshop, not a catering service. I should have declined the idea of offering wine. It seems so small now to write it but it caused me so much stress I had to have around 3 or 4 days off and reassess what I was doing.

Number 1 was I had to concentrate on the bookshop and what I wanted, not what other people expected it to be. Several events were culled or rearranged to better suit a schedule. Things that I would have said yes to received a no. It was a great weight off my shoulders. One such thing that was adjusted was the sheer amount of events and especially gigs. After a few events where the audience could be counted on one hand I decided to create a more focused, a better organised gigging experience for both the audience and the acts. The Big Comfy Folk Club came out of this. Instead of loads of gigs with 2 acts on, I now just had 2 a month with three acts on each. From the start attendances were up. Since it's grown we've had around 5 sell outs, with another 3 or 4 coming a few tickets short. It's become so popular that Kathryn Williams wanted to play, Mark Morriss came too plus next year we've bagged Boo Hewerdine plus another biggie tba. I receive around 15 emails a week wanting to play.

I've been a lot more comfortable since I did this. It's manageable to promote a gig at a time, rather than 2 or 3. In May time I also was really busy so hired two members of staff. Ali and Annette joined the ranks and both have been great, bringing different things to the shop. It also meant that from June I could have Tuesday off! A weekend!
Through the summer it was always an unknown how we'd do as it's year one and unsure what to expect. If I'm honest (which is the whole point of this blog I guess) it was a great disappointment. The footfall just wasn't there. People would rather go and sit in a park, or go on holiday. I had the folk club that brought in a healthy amount and the poetry and gaming nights kicked up a gear, but the day to day trade was slight. Hope was round the corner though as our 1st birthday loomed. On a whole it was OK but unfortunately we suffered a great personal loss at home so had to close a lot of the time through September. Ali worked a lot more which was brilliant as it meant we were open, but it also meant wages spent. I don't mean to be cryptic but I'd rather not splash what we went through on the net, but I'm still carrying it with me and I think this has affected me deeply and will for a long time and another reason that I lost grip on what was going on at the shop.

Anyway, as a broad stroke year 1 was good (according to my accountant anyway). Year two actually started amazingly with two sell out gigs, great attendances from the game and poetry night plus general trade. I realised I'd taken my eye of the ball in September but due to the nature of what I was going through, I'm not going to beat myself up over this. I spent October really trying to get it back on track and it did, with the shop having a bumper month in terms of footfall, attendances and sales. The book-side of the shop, which sometimes felt like an afterthought, was brought to the front and I've been trying to keep it there. We're a BOOKshop.

There have been bad habits picked up over the 14 months since opening. Eating and drinking my own stock was a bad trait that I expected to stop after a month but simply didn't! I'm pretty strict on it now. Tweets also became slow and lazy whereas before I was on it making conversation (the point of twitter folks). So where am I at the minute?

The folk club is going great guns. I'm happy there. I'm not however, getting complacent on the general promotion to increase the footfall. Relying on people to pass through Fargo and just pop in won't pay the bills so I'm still constantly looking for other means of letting people know 1) Coventry has a really cool bookshop, 2) That it's in a really cool creative area and 3) There's so much going on, plus we have a bar with cake and to just come in for Christ's sake.

The day to day running has changed too. In the summer I could easily just tweet or facebook throughout the day and waste a lot of time. I stopped reading books, I stopped reading news and I rested on my laurels. Today I see as a kind of kick up the arse to kick start the 'me' in bookshop. You know.

Alongside the promo (which I'll still mention but maybe less faceless) I'll be mentioning my good days, my bad days, the general consensus of running this place.

That was quite therapeutic to write all this. Although the bookshop wasn't exactly dead, to me it felt stale so I'm going to input more me, or rather introduce you to me again, and hopefully bring a bit more life back. God, I sound like I've hated it. I haven't. There were certainly moments but what I think I'm saying is, I'm here again, me, Michael. Not faceless grumpy tired bookshop man.


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Tom Cox book signing and talk

On November 17th we welcome Tom Cox to the shop to sign copies of his new book Close Encounters of the Furred Kind. He'll also be talking about his his cats, his golf, his love of the country and everything else inbetween. Tickets are already selling fast so book on line HERE or pop into the shop. Tickets can't be bought over the phone.

Join Tom Cox - nature and humour writer, failed pro golfer and creator of the @MYSADCAT Twitter account - as he reads
from, talks about and signs copies of his latest book, Close Encounters Of The Furred Kind. As well as episodes from Tom's life with five demanding and
eccentric cats, there'll be tales from his life in the Devon and Norfolk countryside and about his loud, excitable dad. Expect shouting, swearing and an unlikely story about a toad.

Doors open at 7pm. Start at 7.30.
Please note this is an over 18 event.

No food or drink to be brought onto the premises. Bar open serving hot and cold drinks, ale and wine plus cake!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Happy Birthday to us!

It's just over a year since our doors opened. I'll get round to writing about it soon. This is just a wee thanks to all who have visited, both in person and digitally on line. You rock.