October Books, the well-loved independent bookshop in Southampton, UK where I work was facing a rent increase and an uncertain future towards the end of 2017. What to do? My colleagues and I started to look at alternative premises in the local area and the city center in early 2018. We first viewed the former chemist next door, which had a smaller retail space and a lower rent, so we registered our interest. But it was not to be – someone else got in before us.
This is a song about the bookshop where I work, October Books, and its story about buying new premises. It’s been operating in Southampton for over 40 years, and has built up a loyal customer following. Many of our customers have stepped with funds to help us buy the local former NatWest branch, hence we are “buying the bank”!
Listen to the song while reading the text.
Real Estate Search
Next up was an off-license further down the road, but there were mixed feelings about the shape and size of the space (longer and narrower than what we had). By now we had decided that we wanted to stay in the locality as we had good links with nearby University of Southampton, and a loyal customer following, many of whom live in the area. So when we noticed that the former NatWest site was up for sale we went to view it – but were we up for buying it?
As it was quite a bit bigger than the existing shop, there was the possibility of creating a community space that could be hired out. A local charity working with the homeless were also interested in taking over the first floor of the building. Talks began with other interested parties who came with us to view the property.
Then, after some discussion, one of my colleagues came up with the idea of asking our customer base for help with the purchase, either by lending or donating money. Thus it would be a community-owned shop, and community hub.
Buying the Bank
The project quickly became known as “Buying the bank,” as we sent out an appeal for help with funds for the purchase. It was in April 2018 that I had the idea of writing a song telling the story of how we were “Buying the bank,” and what better a title?!
I first performed it at my local folk club with my guitar, but I recorded it at home with a backing track as we came nearer to the completion date for the purchase, in August 2018. Believing if it was going to be shared with our investors, and possibly with the media, it would have more of an impact than just me with my guitar. Therefore, I sent the recording to my colleagues – one suggested performing it at the launch and another wanted to send it out with our next newsletter. I uploaded it onto SoundCloud so that the link could be inserted in the newsletter.
So October Books became the proud owner of a bank, complete with a strong room! We held a celebration in the empty space and invited customers to join us, and I gave a live performance of “Buying the bank” with people joining in the chorus. Two more performances followed, one at an event where people shared their stories of October Books through the years, and one at the opening of the new shop where I was accompanied by local band Straight to the Cake.
Jaquie Daniels, Category: Artist, Albums: A Brighter Day, Factory of Life, Middle England, Flying High, Nouvelle, Singles: Festival, Christmas Songs, Heaven Is a Parallel Universe, Say Goodbye to Love (Big Band Mix), Top Tracks: Festival, Down by the River, I Know Which Way to Go, Friend, It Never Snows at Christmas, Monthly Listeners: 9, Where People Listen: Southampton, Forest Hill, Airdrie, Leicester, Chesapeake