If you’ve been into the shop over the past few months, you may have noticed that I’ve started to resemble our Book Bird logo – a little plump around the belly. While I have been enjoying a serious intake of snacks, I would like to share with you all that I am indeed pregnant, expecting my first human child on the suitably festive yet non-retail-friendly date of Christmas eve. Merry Christmas to me! I say first human child because, would you believe, that on this very day exactly seven years ago, I birthed my first non-human child into the world – my beloved Book Bird.
I’ll be heading off on a rough 12 months of maternity leave with my last day in the shop being this Friday 28th October. It feels oddly auspicious and kind of a big deal to be celebrating the shop’s 7th birthday and commencing leave in the very same week. A birthday is always a good time to reflect and measure just how far you’ve come…
There were quite a few times in the early years of the shop’s life where I felt like the running of the business was simply going to swallow me whole. I’m sure any small business owner can attest to this. Yet, somehow, the bookworms of Geelong embraced and invested wholeheartedly in the value of a small independent bookshop in their community, and the rest has taken care of itself.
I always hoped for the shop to be more than just a place where you could buy a book. I hoped to create a hub which fostered connections between books and people while providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere at the same time. Offering an old school retail approach where we treasure our bricks and mortar space, we work hard to foster those connections through learning your names and reading habits which is both a great source of pride and a heap of fun.
Over the last seven years, I have had the endless pleasure of witnessing the reading journey of many bookworms, but it’s the growth of the youngest among us which has been especially heart-warming. I have seen very hungry dribbling newborns go from attempting to eat shelves of board books to devouring their first junior reader independently. I’ve guided middle grade readers from Harry Potter through to Mr Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and have observed young adult readers with an insatiable palate for teen romance move from that nook of the shop into the adult crime or classics section.
Every time you return to chat about a book that we’ve recommended to you, those connections we hope to foster between books and people are solidified. Sometimes you just pop your head in the door on the way to Woolies to let us know how much you adored the latest Geraldine Brooks or you call us on the phone to tell us how much your Dad loved our recommendations for Father’s Day. You know us and we know you – it’s a local community, and serving you is deeply rewarding.
The amount of warmth, and genuine care I have received when sharing my news with you in the shop over the last couple of months has been enormously touching and made me feel even more connected to this community. I’ve had hugs, tears, whoops of delight and phone calls, “just because I was driving past and wanted to see how you were going?” And almost all of you have shared a story about a Christmas Eve baby or a birthday that falls within that stretch of no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I can’t wait for my story to join yours.
All of this is to say that I loved the life of a bookseller seven years ago and I still love it now, perhaps even more so.
I’ve said it a few times over the years but let’s be honest; a good pun never gets old: your support is literally the wind beneath our wings and is one of the reasons that The Book Bird has grown steady enough to allow me to step back and turn my focus to my new baby bird. The other reason is, of course, my ripper team of staff which has grown from zilch to five gun booksellers – all with a diverse range of book knowledge and a belief in the value of making continuous connections between books and people.
Heading up the team in my absence is long-timer, Charlotte, who as you all know, contains enough book knowledge in her head to sink a ship. Joining her is the unflappable Josh; expert in short fiction and eternal lover of all books dog related. Then we have our in-house Greek mythology and Fantasy expert Tyler, Murakami-mad Penny and a newer face you may be yet to meet, Sarah, who is an absolute delight. I am proud to hand over the reins to such a mighty flock of Birds. I trust wholeheartedly in their collective ability to preserve our old fashioned customer service and steer you in the right direction with book recommendations this Christmas and beyond.
Stay tuned for updates once my little one touches down. While I’ll still be working from home taking care of business admin, I’m definitely going to miss my little shop and our wonderful punters dearly.
Endless thanks for all of your support and well wishes so far.