Here’s what we know about Radlett’s new bookshop

Segrue Books logoNews that a new shop is opening in Radlett doesn’t usually cause much of a stir. But when we heard that David and Amanda Segrue were planning to open a bookshop right here in Radlett, we really were excited. I spoke to David about the project:

Tell us what kind of bookshop you’re planning, David. What will it be called?

“We thought long and hard about the name and talked about successful bookshops. They’re all named after their founders so we came up with the name Segrue Books of Radlett. It took some time to get used to a bookshop having our name on it! We put Radlett in the name as we want the bookshop to be part of the community and for the people of Radlett to feel the shop belongs to the village. The shop will have a good range of fiction – mid-market and literary. Non-fiction will range from history and politics through to popular psychology, science and travel. We’ll also stock illustrated books including cookery, design and practical art, plus a good selection of children’s books.”

Radlett’s well within range of Amazon’s same-day delivery service. What makes you think there’s still a place for physical bookshops in 2016?

“Amazon provides an online shopping service that suits some consumers, but there are many book buyers who want to browse in a good bookshop. They want to touch a book and get a feel for it before they buy it. It’s very hard to really get a feel for a book on a screen. The other key to success in bookselling is the way the shop presents its books and gifts, the knowledge of the booksellers and their customer service. We can order almost 500,000 books for next-day delivery too.”

What’s your background? Have you run bookshops before?

“I’ve worked in the industry for 24 years as a sales agent for independent publishers, I supply everyone from Waterstones and WHSmith to museums, galleries and independent bookshops. I advise publishers on packaging of books and cover design. Amanda started life working in the city and for the last 14 years has managed finance for our sales agency. Neither of us have run a bookshop but have the trade experience. We’ll be employing an experienced bookshop manager and booksellers.”

We hear that 30% of your shop will be children’s books. Why are kids’ books so important?

“Children’s books have grown in sales for the last three to four years and the quality goes from strength to strength. Children are continually distracted by screens from phones and tablets to televisions. Books are a beautiful, tactile object that can help focus children’s minds, help calm children and inspire creativity.”

Will your shop reflect your own interests?

Amanda will bring a sense of calm to the shop with her interest in interior design, she has a flair for it. The key to success in bookselling is to build a shop’s stock around the local market, we’ll build the opening stock based on our knowledge of the local area. We’ll buy a small amount of gift product to sell and Amanda and I will do this to suit the taste of the locals.”

There’s the exciting prospect of ‘locally-made cakes’. Tell me more about the café.

“Amanda’s a tea drinker and has picked Tea Pigs as our supplier for tea, it will be served in pots with tea cups the way tea should be. I’m a coffee drinker and am insistent that you can’t serve coffee unless it is the best coffee. All the staff will be trained as baristas as well as being expert booksellers. Amanda is currently tasting cakes from a number of local bakers that make cakes at home, when we say home-made we mean home-made.”

Will you put on events, readings and meet-the-authors?

“There’s great excitement in the book trade for the shop opening, publishers are always keen to find new bookshops to promote authors. We’ll be looking for author signings and meet-the-author talks. We’ll look to run a bookclub which can also attract authors to meet bookclub members. We’re also looking to run children’s events tied in with authors and activity books. Our 11 year-old son wants to read to children on a Saturday and during the holidays.”

I hear you’ve taken the location of the old Wine Rack. Will you retain the parking spaces in front?

“The parking spaces are owned by the shops along the parade and so the 4 spaces in front of the shop are owned by Segrue Books of Radlett. We love the idea people can park outside, pop in for a coffee and a book and not have to worry about parking.”

You can sign up for email updates about the new bookshop on the Segrue Books web site.

Radlett’s shortlived farmers’ market is no more

Honey and beeswax on sale at the first Radlett farmers' market in April 2011

Hertsmere Borough Council issued a press release yesterday. The company brought in to operate the three month trial of a farmers’ market in Newberries car park (behind Budgen’s) have given up on the idea. Here’s the release:

Following a three-month trial, the farmers’ market in Radlett will not be continued.

The management company – Hughmark Continental Ltd – came to the decision as they feel the market is not financially viable for them. Lew Hughes, Director, said: “Unfortunately we have decided not to continue with the market. Even though we weren’t charged for using the car park for the trial we have struggled to cover our costs so it just isn’t worthwhile for us.”

The trial ran at Newberries car park on the third Sunday of April, May and June, with the last market on Sunday (19 June).

Councillor Seamus Quilty, Portfolio Holder for economic development at Hertsmere Borough Council, said: “This may be disappointing for local residents but we cannot continue with the market if it isn’t cost-effective for anyone. We have tried to make it work but we can’t continue it for just a few residents, especially in the current financial climate.

“A small number of people have suggested that we haven’t promoted the market enough but we have done everything possible. This has included putting articles and adverts in various residents’ magazines and local papers, putting up posters in local shops and on lampposts and advertising it on our website and through social media. The last market was also promoted at the Radlett Festival the week before it.”

Simon Payton, Head of Engineering Services at Hertsmere Borough Council with responsibility for markets, added: “The trial started off quite well but never became economically viable – at the end of the day if stallholders don’t make a profit they will not return.

“It is a shame the market hasn’t worked but I think Radlett is a very different place to somewhere like St Albans which has a popular farmers’ market but also has a lot of other things to attract visitors.”

What do you think? Did Hertsmere and Hughmark promote the market properly or was it doomed from the start by a lack of adverts and banners? Was the location up to the task or essentially hidden behind the shops? And does anybody really need a fancy market selling artisan bread and organic honey anyway?

A new convenience store on Watling Street

We’ve been dropping into the new shop in the Oakway parade on Watling Street since before Christmas so this is a belated welcome to owner Ali Sumbul (pictured) and his family who run the shop. Staff are terrifically friendly and have the entirely charming habit of noting down the things you’re after that they don’t have in stock so that they can get them in for your next visit.

Retail is pretty brutal at the best of times but whenever a new shop opens in this grim climate I find myself crossing my fingers. Ali’s chosen an unpromising stretch of Watling Street which has seen more than its fair share of closures but his shop is open all hours and serves the Northern end of the village that’s a good walk from Tesco and Budgen so he stands a chance of making a success of it. I do hope so!