New Alnwick bookshop aiming to benefit from post-lockdown passion for reading

A series of chance events have led to the creation of a new bookshop in Alnwick.
Helen Stanton in her Corbridge bookshop. Picture: Discover Our Land.Helen Stanton in her Corbridge bookshop. Picture: Discover Our Land.
Helen Stanton in her Corbridge bookshop. Picture: Discover Our Land.

"It’s pure serendipity,” says owner Helen Stanton as she puts the finishing touches to her Narrowgate store.

Indeed, the name above the door thought up by her 11-year-old son, Alfred, reflects just that.

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"It’s called The Accidental Bookshop,” says Helen, who already runs bookshops in Corbridge and Whitley Bay.

The Accidental Bookshop on Narrowgate, Alnwick.The Accidental Bookshop on Narrowgate, Alnwick.
The Accidental Bookshop on Narrowgate, Alnwick.

"It had been a bit of a dream of mine to open a shop in Alnwick.

"I’d thought it might be a year or two down the line but then I came and saw the building, the lease was available and I couldn’t resist it.

"One day we were coming up to Alnwick and my son said ‘so we’re going to the place you’ve accidentally bought’ and The Accidental Bookshop just stuck.

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"The last year and a bit has taught us that we can’t really plan stuff so I just thought ‘go for it’!”

The shop, in the former Thomas Cook travel agency, is currently being refurbished but Helen hopes to open before the end of the month.

Last year, The Reading Agency revealed that one in three adults was reading more, rising to almost one in two (45%) 18-24 year olds.

"People are passionate about books and still love reading and I’ve noticed that more than ever since lockdown which has been great to see,” says Helen.

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One of the key attractions for her new Alnwick store was the space and height it offers.

"Bookshops are great places to browse,” she explains. “You want to have the space for people to come in and take the time they need to find what they want to read next.”

She hopes that in time it will be able to host events and school visits.

And while the renowned Barter Books is just up the road she is confident there’s demand for both.

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"I’m a big fan of Barter Books,” says Helen. “It’s one of my favourite places to go whenever I’m in this part of Northumberland.

"I stock new books and they sell secondhand books so I’m sure we’ll complement each other rather than be in competition.”

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