Q&A: David Wallace owner of David’s Bookshop in Letchworth GC

Paul Wallace, owner of David's Book Shop

Paul Wallace, owner of David's Book Shop - Credit: Archant

This month we speak with the owner of David’s Book Shop, Paul Wallice. The 48-year-old talks about his love of books, what makes Letchworth GC so special and how the 50-year-old business has changed over the years.

Firstly, can you tell the readers a bit about yourself?

I have been working at David’s since 1995 and then bought the business in 2009.

I live in Hitchin with my wife and have two children – my son worked for me until he went travelling last year, my daughter is at Priory School in Hitchin and works in the shop on Sundays.

I spent four years in Australia and have worked in tourism, retail and self-storage.

My interests include books, clog dancing, cricket and books.

Can you tell me how the business has changed since it was launched?

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There have been many changes at David’s – the premises, layout and personnel have changed over the past 50 years.

In recent times we have seen the rise of the internet, downloading of entertainment products, supermarkets getting into books, and the current resurgence in independent shops, especially book and record shops.

David’s has always been ready to adapt and engage with the local community.

Over the years that you have ran the business, can you tell readers some of the challenges you have faced?

The changing face of retail in this country, with what many see as unfair competition from businesses who don’t have to pay the same levels of tax, VAT or business rates as we do.

Successfully meeting the challenge involves emphasising our strengths – a welcoming environment, friendly and knowledgeable staff, beautiful books and cards, and great coffee among other things.

What do you enjoy most about working with books?

I really enjoy the conversations they start and the tangents they can lead you to.

What advice do you have to anyone thinking about starting up their own business?

Be prepared to adapt quickly both to things that work and things that don’t. Recognise what is the core of your business and change around that.

What advantages and disadvantages are there in running your own business?

You get to set your own agenda; on the other hand the beast takes over your life!

How does being in a town like Letchworth GC help your business and would you consider moving the business to another town?

David’s is such an established business in Letchworth that we would never consider moving elsewhere.

I like to think that some of the quirky, eccentric pioneer spirit of the early Garden City is channelled through our shop.

Letchworth is fortunate to have the Heritage Foundation and some of the plans in the pipeline for the town centre are very exciting, especially the number of students relocating here, the arts initiatives coming to town, and the formation of the Business Improvement District.

How do you manage to maintain a work/life balance?

My wife does that for me!

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