Thank you so much for bearing with us while we make changes to our shop. Unfortunately we will be saying goodbye to our cafe and activity area but just wanted to explain a little why we have had to come to this decision. We will still serve coffee/tea for events in our Woodland room. We opened Button & Bear in September 2016 after months of preparation and planning. Button & Bear is a family business set up by myself, Louise, with my husband Jon and daughters Emma, Becky, Lucy and Ellie. I work with Becky and a great team in the shop and Emma, Lucy and Ellie are there in the background working in or around the shop.
When we opened, our vision was to provide a unique bookshop with a selection of the best books that children's publishing have to offer. A wider range than available through the supermarkets and even chain high street bookshops. We wanted to be able to offer the guidance and help that comes from talking to someone knowledgeable and passionate about children's books. Even more important was that we wanted to bring a love of books and stories to a new generation of children, and help struggling and reluctant readers find that one book that could make a difference.
The shop we created had three elements - the bookshop, our events in our Woodland Room and the coffee shop. Our aim was to create a magical environment for children to come to that would be part of their childhood memories. A great positive link with stories, books and families.
Our coffee shop was developed to be family friendly and we wanted everyone to feel welcome and at home. However, we have been a victim of our success with our family friendly coffee shop space. With parents keen to have a coffee in peace and struggling with the relatively small play space to occupy little ones, we find that they quickly progress into using the bookshop itself as a play area. This often takes its toll on our books & gifts (in just one incident a few months ago we had £118 of books/soft toys damaged). More importantly the cafe is taking up too much time that we are not getting to spend on all the plans we had for the book side which is where our passion lies.
In addition, we have an ongoing challenge of operating against both online and offline discounting of books (very often being sold for less than we can buy them in for). As a 'bricks and mortar' independent high street retailer, we pay local business rates and employ all our staff locally. Last year we did look at expanding into the shop next door but despite this smaller shop not being eligible for business rates as soon as it was joined on to ours we would have had to pay around an additional £1,000 per month just on additional business rates. We also support and partner with a number of other small and local businesses by providing space to offer activities and events other than those we run ourselves.
Given all of the above, we have therefore had to make some hard decisions about what we can continue to offer our customers and the next generation of children. We want to ensure we can continue to be here to help create those wonderful childhood memories around books and stories. We are therefore currently making changes to our shop to increase our bookshop and gift space and enable us to better display more of our wonderful books, cards and prints. We will continue to offer events, activities, parties and room hire in our Woodland Room. We know that will come as a shock to some of you, but we are so lucky in Shrewsbury to have lots of independent coffee shops and we look forward to supporting them more ourselves now. Little Rascals has recently opened in the town centre (free!) so there is also somewhere for little ones to run and let off steam whilst you are out and about shopping.
I would like to finish by saying a huge thank you to everyone for supporting us during the last three years and we would love to be here for the next three. Please do continue to visit us, ask for book recommendations, come to our events and support your local businesses. You cannot underestimate the difference you can make by coming and buying one book or even just a card - EVERY purchase makes a huge difference and we really do value your custom.