Small Business Saturday Blog

In the good books

Friday, November 19, 2021 at 11:36

Sarah Dennis of Mostly Books shares her story of how bringing her love of books to town has had a positive ripple effect locally.
Mostly Books is an award-winning, independent bookshop located in the heart of Abingdon, just outside Oxford. They sell a wide array of books that cater for all ages and interests, alongside handpicked cards, small gifts, and children’s toys.
Sarah Dennis bought the business in 2017, and since then it has gone from strength to strength, with a full refurb, extensive events calendar and increased local engagement.
Their hard work has been widely recognised. As well as being a Small Business Saturday SmallBiz100 this year, the business was named as Bertram’s Bookshop of the Year in 2019, and they have also won a Pan Macmillan Independent Bookshop Innovation Award, as well as being shortlisted for the Independent Bookshop of the Year at the British Book Awards for the last four years.
Manned by a small team of passionate booksellers, Mostly Books is heavily involved in the local community. They aim to be an inclusive, safe space for all customers (and their pets!). For some customers, a visit to the bookshop is a highlight of their day, and children love visiting their ‘book nook’ and colouring whilst their parents browse.
They also run a book group and offer discounts for other local book clubs, provide an innovative book subscription service, donate books to charities, produce and present a podcast (for which they have been lucky enough to speak to many fantastic authors), run a stall at Pride, and organise a variety of events.
The business is passionate about helping younger people engage with books and reading. They have strong links with many schools, sourcing books as well as running events and fairs. They have also recently launched a Youth Ambassador scheme, sending out copies of unpublished books for children to review, mentoring them in their writing skills and providing references for university and work applications.
Sustainability is also a vital part of Mostly Books’ business. In 2019, they achieved the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Champion award by removing all avoidable single-use plastic from the business. The boxes and packaging they use for shipping books are all recyclable, and they try to reuse packaging materials sent from suppliers.
During the pandemic the business adapted with a new website and a renewed focus on social media and digital events. When the UK went into lockdown, they offered free delivery to customers within five miles, and intend to continue the service in order to support customers who cannot get to them.
Mostly Books has enjoyed taking part in Shop Small and told us: “American Express is a great brand to work in partnership with. They are clear supporters of small businesses and their initiatives, such as the Shop Small offer, are a great way to show that support.”
You can visit Mostly Books at 36 Stert Street, Abingdon OX14 3JP and online here. Find out more about the American Express Shop Small offer here.


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