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Last chapter for charity bookshop filled with ‘treasure’

The Animal Aid and Advice shop in Blackstock Road to close after 13 years

09 November, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Volunteers Marat Gukasyan and Stephen Horne at the Blackstock Road shop: ‘It’s sad it’s going to close’

A “TREASURE house” charity bookshop is closing down after 13 years in Blackstock Road.

The Animal Aid and Advice shop, run by volunteers, is due to close at the end of December after sales dwindled over the past year. Charity trustee Sally Sampaio, 66, said: “If the shop was open every day then sales would pick up, but sadly we can’t run it like we used to because we have less volunteers.”

Stephen Horne, 71, has volunteered at the shop twice a week since 2011 after retiring from his work as a solicitor. He said: “We’ve started telling our regular customers that it’s going to close and they all say they are sorry. It’s a treasure house. We just have so many books.”

Mr Horne, who has lived in Romilly Road since 1981, said: “People donate to us when they are moving house or, sadly, when clearing out the basement of someone who has died. We have some real old classics here. I’ve bought many myself. My favourites are 19th-century novels – Jane Austen and that sort of thing.”

The shop, with books – from crime novels to comic books – stacked to the ceiling, has stopped taking donations and hopes to shift its stock before the end of the year.

Ms Sampaio said: “The book industry is struggling, like the retail industry, what with the rise of Amazon and all the rest of it. It’s very sad, but we have to be responsible and close it. We were lucky to have such great volunteers for over 10 years but sadly lots have retired now and we just can’t run the shop. Ours is different from a regular bookshop as it is a charity shop. It is buzzy and full of bric-a-brac.”

Marat Gukasyan, 31, who volunteers at the shop once a week, said: “I moved to London in June from Moscow. It has helped me a lot. “I have gained my confidence speaking to people and I have learnt a lot about UK culture. It’s sad it’s going to close.”

Ms Sampaio added: “We only get a penny for each book if we recycle them so this is the last chance people have to buy books before Christmas.”

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