Independent Retailers

Today I’m grateful for independent retailers!

After yesterday’s adventures we had booked to stay overnight at a pub near where we had been Green Laning. The food was delicious and plentiful and I’m assured the real ale was also a success. After a hot bath and a great night’s sleep we decided on an impromptu trip to Hay-on-Wye, having realised was only a short 15 minute drive away. If you’ve not had the chance to visit Hay-on-Wye yet, I strongly recommend a visit. It’s renowned for its bookshops and holds a yearly literary festival, but is also home to various pubs, cute shops of the non-bookish variety and isn’t far from Wales if you want to venture across the border. Last time we went there was a power cut and we had to browse by torchlight!

Today we arrived and, guess what? It was raining. Many of the roads were flooded en route, water was running off the fields and onto the tarmac in little streams, so we were glad to be in the Land Rover! We parked up and had a wander up the high street, but due to it being Sunday everything was shut until about 11am. However, the old cinema bookshop was open, thankfully, so we headed inside to dry off and have a browse. If you do go to Hay, this is definitely one of the best bookshops. It’s huge, has multiple floors and is brilliantly organised. They also have radiators at regular intervals if you fancy a warm up while you peruse…

By the time we left other shops were opening and we took a little time to revisit one of our favourites from last year – Flow. New on the visit list was Bartrums, the most adorable little stationery shop that looked as if it belonged in Harry Potter! We were immediately greeted by a lovely guy who applauded us for braving the rain and within a few minutes we were discussing fountain pens, my biggest stationery weakness. (Current count stands at 7.) There are few things nicer than writing with a fountain pen filled with your favourite ink. YUM.

So, after we’d discovered our mutual fandom, we headed downstairs into the showroom that had cabinet after cabinet of fountain pens. It. Was. Heaven. Ink and pens galore. Because he was equally enthusiastic we just went from one thing to another, discussing, exchanging views and, best of all, trying stuff out. Eeep! The massive downside of buying online is that there is no option to try before you buy. I was in my element and came away with a bottle of Herbin ink (seriously reserved I think) and a skip in my step.

Again, the people made the difference! Imagine if I’d just gone in and had been greeted by a vague hello, told to ask if I needed anything… That shopping experience would have been totally different and I’d probably have told myself that I didn’t exactly need anything and left empty handed. As it was I felt like after all of that squee-ing over pens I couldn’t really leave without some token of the encounter.

We drove back to the cinema bookshop to collect the books we’d discovered earlier (didn’t want them to get wet) and I found that they offered 10% student discount. This is a rare thing for independents to do, so I thanked the lady on reception and complemented her on the great organisation of the shop. She seemed really touched and everyone parted ways happy…

In summary – people are great!

Had to add a photo of my raincoat because I was so glad of it today! (Although, sadly, from a less independent retailer…)

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