Friday Blog Feb 17 – My Oxfam Bookshop’s 1st Birthday

My Oxfam Bookshop’s 1st Birthday – by Gillian

I remember the knot in my stomach last February the first time I stood alone, shop keys in hand, a blank volunteer rota in the other, looking at the shell of a shop round about me, with a mountain of books in the middle of the floor awaiting the imposition of some structure.

After a few frantic days of activity, the bookshelves and the volunteer rota were (sort of) full and we were ready to throw the doors open to the people ofGlasgow. I was nervous about how people would respond to an Oxfam Bookshop in such a city-centre location, especially one which doesn’t look like a typical (or stereotypical, at least) charity shop. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and, despite a few painfully quiet shifts, I’m really pleased that the shop is already profitable despite the worrying retail climate, the dawn of e-books and the considerable costs of setting up a new business.

It’s been an eventful year. After the children’s author Julia Donaldson helped us officially open the shop, there followed a few months of training volunteers and getting the shop up and running smoothly. In the summer, we began a book group in the shop which is now firmly established and we had a Glasgowphotography competition which resulted in our popular range of Glasgowpostcards. In September, we were really excited to have the Scottish crime writer Chris Brookmyre visit and give us a tantalising sneak preview of his upcoming novel, When the Devil Drives. In October, we launched our music section and December was full of Christmas craziness. We used the January retail lull to appeal for much-needed donations of books and our gloomy February was brightened by an unexpected anonymous donation of £1429 to help Oxfam repair a classroom and improve the lives and education of children in poverty.

On Monday night, we had our 1st birthday party complete with cake (far, far too much cake), candles, singing and balloons and it was great to see so many of my volunteers there, celebrating our first year together. It’s hard to believe a year has passed already and I’m looking forward to the future with several exciting things already on the horizon. In the shop this Saturday, there will be recitals of love-themed poetry and on the 22nd I’m off toGlasgowCaledonianUniversity where marketing students are having a huge fundraising gala for Oxfam. Next month, the lovely people from Divine, producers of delicious Fairtrade chocolate, will be visiting, we hope to celebrate International Women’s Day with a women’s history evening and our book group will have its first outing to the Scottish Poetry Slam Championships as part of the Aye Write festival.

I feel so at home in the shop now and I’m proud of the contribution we are making to Oxfam’s anti-poverty work. It really wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and support of my volunteers, as well as my Oxfam colleagues and our neighbours on the Square.


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