Last week I did my work experience at a bookshop. The shop is called ‘Victoria Park Books’ and is located in… Victoria Park, of course. For all of you that don’t know where that is, it’s located in Hackney, East London. It’s a very trendy place, it’s one of the rare places in London that has not been destroyed by popular chains such as Tesco etc. It’s a fairly quiet place with a great community feel about it.
It’s becoming more well-known due to how close it is to the Olympic site. Due to this, the houses in Hackney suffered what was called ‘The Olympic Effect’. This was when all the houses in areas close to the Olympic site rose dramatically in price. I say ‘suffered’, because it’s hardly a good thing, after all aren’t houses unaffordable enough as it is? Anyway, enough of my ranting; here’s an interview I did with my employer Jo De Guia, owner of the bookshop.
1. Tell u a bit about yourself and the bookshop
Victoria Park Books was set up in 2005 by us, Jo and Cris De Guia. It was a response to our changing circumstances; we had a baby and wanted more control over our lives.We returned to our strengths. Jo grew up in a family run independent bookshop in Limpsfield, Surrey and completed a Publishing Production diploma at the London College of Printing after her degree. She worked for Waterstone’s during the ’80’s and then went on to hold a number of posts from running several small restaurants to managing a Training Department for one of the Inns of Court. Cris is an IT specialist and worked for several years as a Network Administrator and IT Assistant Manager for an international bank in the City before joining DGT. He manages the IT requirements of the company and created, manages and hosts the Bookshop website.We had lived in the area for a number of years and having our own child meant that we had direct experience of what was available for children to read. We sold our house, bought 174 Victoria Park Road and moved into the flat upstairs. A year later, the building completely renovated, the door on the ground floor was opened for business.
2. What do you enjoy best about working here?
The people who come and buy, the authors and illustrators, and reading the books
3. When you were little what did you want to be and what do you think
I wanted to be an actress. I now know that I didn’t have the blind determination to make that happen
4. Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to start a business in the future?
Realise that you don’t make loads of money and that any money you might make will be extremely hard work. but you are your own boss and if you want the kind of lifestyle that goes with working for yourself then the advantages might outweigh the disadvantages.
5. Have you had any particularly memorable moments/ experiences in the past years?
Michael Morpurgo (War Horse, etc) and Andy Stanton (Mr Gum) coming and there being so many people in the shop that the ceiling looked like it might collapse. John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) telling off a very uptight customer for being mean about Harvey. Our first book club meeting which finished at about 2am.