A beloved independent book stand is due to close this weekend – after 61 years in business.
Owners Richard and Kathie Fielder, who took over The Book Stall in Plymouth Market from Richard’s father in 1991, have loved running the bookstore and getting to know their customers over the years, but have now decided it was time to take retire and focus on the next chapter. of their life.
Richard, 75, remembers when his parents first opened the booth in 1959 and feels grateful for the support and “loyalty” from so many customers, many of whom have become regulars over the years.
Throughout the Bookstall’s stay in the market, Richard noticed many changes in the market itself and in people’s reading habits.
While in the 1960s “half the stalls” were fruit and vegetable stalls, there are now plenty of restaurants, Richard says, and people have swapped paperbacks for Kindle and e-readers.
Unfortunately, due to the combination of retirement and rent rates for Richard and Kathie, the business is no longer profitable and, unfortunately, will close its doors for good.
Richard has noticed many changes in the market over the years, including the impact of malls and supermarkets, and the development of technology.
He told PlymouthLive: “My mom and dad ran the booth for thirty years [before me]. The stall started at the old Pannier Market in Plymouth, where Boots is now located, in 1957. It moved to where it is now, Plymouth Market, in 1959.
“When the market opened, 50% of the stalls were fruit and vegetable stalls, because at that time there were no supermarkets. .
“But now the market is mainly made up of restaurants. “
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Unfortunately, Richard feels that the market is “not as crowded” as it used to be, not least because fewer holidaymakers are stopping by the market.
When tourists had to drive through downtown Plymouth to Cornwall they would stop and walk through the market, he said, but now holidaymakers no longer travel through the area and therefore have fewer people visiting The stall.
For The Book Stall, detective stories and romance novels have always been the most popular – “they’re two ends of the spectrum: love and hate! Richard said.
But with technological developments and the rise of streaming services, a lot of people just don’t have the patience to read a long book, so business isn’t as busy as in previous years.
Richard explained, “Now when you watch something, you can see every episode on demand, instantly. People want instant gratification, rather than reading a long book.”
By 1959, few people had televisions, so Richard’s family saw entire families flocking to the Bookstall to get their hands on novels.
“Whole families would come,” he said, “grandparents, parents and children. But we don’t tend to have that now.”
However, Richard and Kathie feel very fortunate to have always had the support of their wonderful customers, many of whom have visited the booth for years and have become good friends with the couple.
Speaking to PlymouthLive after the booth’s 60th anniversary last year, Richard explained, “We have a lot of loyal and repeat customers here, and it’s because of them that we’ve been able to keep a business going.
“A lot of them that we know personally, clients come to me and my wife and tell her about their problems because she has a good listening ear.”
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Richard and Kathie live in Mary Tavy and can’t wait to spend their retirement “doing a little exploring and walking”.
While now appears to be the right time to retire, Richard’s decision has also been spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the impact of foreclosure and rent rates, the business is no longer profitable, he said.
And as no one is ready to take over the stand, it will unfortunately end this weekend.