Shop’s service speaks volumes

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I was sorry to read of the imminent closure of Littlehampton’s Oxfam shop, relegated to a few lines at the bottom of a page (Whispering Smith column, February 19).

This has been a Littlehampton institution for the last 20 years, the last ten as a bookshop. It has provided an excellent stock at very low prices, serving less well-off readers, pupils preparing for exams and visitors to the town, as well as many customers looking for a variety of titles from crime paperbacks to many specialist titles.

I have recently had the pleasure of joining the team of volunteers who serve, classify and put the books on shelves as the donations come in. There is much more to a bookshop than just taking the cash.

The reason for the closure appears to be that it is not making enough net profit, after all expenses, rent and other outgoings, to meet the target now required by Oxfam centrally.

Oxfam certainly needs income, serving many needs overseas, including helping tackle Ebola, which, unchecked, would inevitably have reached the UK in time, as well as poverty in Britain.

Yes, there are smarter shops, producing more income, and we could do with a lick of paint, but there are many more commercial ones a lot tattier. Scarthin Books, in Cromford, Derbyshire, is one, a joy to visit but they still stoke a Rayburn in the middle of the shop. Richard Booth’s original old fire station shop in Hay on Wye remains cavernous and unkempt, but has attracted many competitors, attracting customers worldwide.

I hope that the newly arrived neighbours in The Arcade will benefit from increased custom, though the literary festival may have to wait a year! Come in and see us, we may have that long-sought title and even a small payment helps Oxfam projects, a point we have tried to make. We will also tell you where to send your protest!

Colin Johnson

South Terrace

Littlehampton

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