“If you spend £5 a week in an independent shop it generates 12 billion pounds of income for the local community.”

Shopping independent has never been more important. As the pandemic threatens our economy and stability, we’ve found strength and hope in our communities.

One of those places is Drake the Bookshop, an independent book seller located in Silver Street, just off Stockton High Street. They opened their doors in September 2015 and never looked back.

“We opened a book shop in Stockton not knowing whether they wanted one or not,” Richard, one of the owners says, “but the whole community has been brilliant.”

The shop has gone from strength to strength and recently won independent bookshop of the year in 2019 by the British book awards.

But community spirit is the backbone to their shop. Richard and Mel, the co-owners of Drake, work with local schools to introduce authors to students. “We’ve worked with countless schools; we host authors in the area which the schools get involved in,” Richard says. “The kids are great and all get involved.”

As well as working with local schools they also work with local independent authors, and have a close relationship with Sixth Element Publishing which is also located in Stockton.

“We’ve got at least half of dozen independent local titles on the shelves.” Richard adds. “Local authors come and ask if we can stock their books but it isn’t easy so we have guidelines on our website for them.”

They’re a general book shop, with gift sections, fiction books and non-fiction books and if it isn’t on the shelf, they’ll order it in for their customer. Book groups, craft events – you name it, they’ve done it. But they’ve also done other extraordinary things.

They started the ‘Great North Author Tour’ which is where four authors go around six different book shops for customers to get lots of signed books. As well as that, they host their infamous book club, one for adults and one for teens.

Keeping up the community spirit has been hard for everyone during lockdown, but that hasn’t stopped Richard and Mel.

“We’ve not taken any time off,” Richard says. “We’ve delivered all over Teesside making sure people are getting books in their homes.”

Now that lockdown has finished, they’ve opened back up and are also are doing their book clubs in a safe manner, often meeting in the park in a socially distanced environment.

They’ve been open for only four years but have achieved so much in that time. It is obvious how much they pride themselves in being a community hub. It’s an amazing place to visit and it definitely fits their theme of being quaint and quirky. Their friendly approach has gained them a phenomenal customer base and the future is bright for Drake.

Find out more at https://www.drakethebookshop.co.uk/