The award-winning Torbay Bookshop in Paignton – opened by TV astronomer Sir Patrick Moore in 1993 – will close at the end of August. Owners Sarah and Matthew Clarke are looking for new tenants for the town centre shop as they stand down.
The bookshop has been on the market for more than a year, but has not been sold.
Matthew said: “It is sad that we have been unable to find a buyer for our profitable business. However the time has now come for Sarah and I to have the opportunity to do something different whilst we are still able.
“As we own the building, our main priority at the moment is to find a new tenant for the shop which hopefully will add to Paignton’s retail offer.”
The Clarkes asked family friend Sir Patrick Moore (above) to perform the opening of their original shop – a few doors down from the current one – in November 1993. The current shop was opened in 2002 by author Dick Francis (below). Over the years numerous celebrities and authors have passed through the doors including Norman Wisdom, Harry Secombe, Jacqueline Wilson, Brian May and Alan Titchmarsh. The largest attendance was for travel writer Francesco Da Mosto, who had eager book-buyers queuing around the block to meet him and have their books signed.
Matthew started his career in books, working as office boy for publisher Mitchell Beazley, and rose through the ranks to become Sales and Marketing director for many well known publishing houses. Sarah began her publishing career at Oxford University Press and became one of the country’s first female sales representatives.
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He said: “We are leaving the shop in good health. It has always made a profit. But after nearly 24 years the time has come for us to do something different.”
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In 2006 the shop was awarded Independent Bookseller of The Year and has then been shortlisted for most of the subsequent years. Having diversified by buying a Thornton’s franchise, the shop won Franchise of the Year after only two years of trading. In April 2013, the store became ‘The Visitor Information Point’ for Paignton and in the following year was included in the award of Silver in the Visit England Award for Excellence.
Eleven years ago, Matthew created Independent Bookshop Week which now has more than 300 booksellers participating in every July. During his time trading in Paignton, he has been chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.
He added: “As with many independent bookshop owners, being involved with the community plays a big part in the shop’s success. My involvement in Rotary, the Palace Theatre, and the Town Centre Community Partnership will continue as we plan to stay living in Paignton.
“It is only in the last couple of weeks that I have seen the film: ‘You’ve got Mail’. The sign Meg Ryan placed on the door of her bookshop seems appropriate for ours: ‘After nearly 24 years, we are closing our doors. We have loved being part of your lives’.”
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Source: Devon live