The Bookshop on the Green
The Bookshop on the Green is nestled in the heart of Bournville, Birmingham overlooking the beautiful Bournville Village Green and the iconic Bournville chocolate factory, founded by the Cadbury brothers. It's a place for discussions, author events, open mic evenings, book groups, writing workshops and discovering new stories! This month we spoke with Sarah, the owner of this lovely shop, to find out more about this home away from home for book-lovers, poets and thinkers.
I read with interest about the Bookshop on the Green’s connection with Bournville Hub and the Bournville BookFest. What inspired you to open up this shop? And what has been your favourite part of this new endeavour?
We really wanted there to be an independent bookshop in Birmingham and thought we couldn’t be the only people who wished for this. Having run Bournville BookFest for nine years we often heard people wishing for an independent bookshop in Birmingham and lamenting that there wasn’t one. And we’d discovered from the festival that we loved bookselling. So we decided to roll up our sleeves and give it a go and The Bookshop on the Green was born! Without a doubt the best part of running The Bookshop on the Green is meeting new people and the lovely relationships we have established with our customers. We’re fortunate to have a wide-ranging customer base from children and families to students and staff from University of Birmingham and lots of older people. Our customers brought us flowers, chocolates, cards and tins of biscuits on the first birthday of our bookshop. We were so grateful to have found a special place in people’s hearts and within our community.
What’s it like running a bookshop on Bournville Green? How have you seen the area change over the years?
It’s a joy selling books and chatting with our customers in such an amazing location. We get to see the changing seasons on the beautiful Bournville Village Green. At the moment we’re really enjoying the daffodils planted in drifts on the Green. And we get the smell of chocolate wafting on the air from the Cadbury’s chocolate factory behind our bookshop! Bournville is truly beautiful and you can easily forget you are in Birmingham. We’ve seen Bournville become much more diverse over the last few years and that’s great to see and this diversity is reflected in the books people buy.
The Bookshop on the Green has a bustling events schedule. What has been your favourite event thus far?
It’s hard to choose but a particular highlight has been our evening with Natalie Haynes who made us both laugh out loud and think hard about feminism in Classical times through to modern day. It reminded us what a joy it is to hear someone talk who knows their subject so well, especially someone who can hold an audience as well as Natalie. And, of course, it was great to welcome Natalie Haynes home because she grew up in Bournville.
Tell us about your local area. How has the pandemic impacted your business and community?
Bournville has a population of 25,000 people. Traditionally, it was built as a model village for the workers from the Cadbury factory but has expanded a lot since Victorian times. There are still people who work for Cadburys but there are also lots of young families and retired people who have made Bournville their home. The biggest employers in the area are the University of Birmingham and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital so we have a really interesting local population of people doing interesting jobs in both the Arts and the Science sectors. There are lots of University staff and lecturers living in Bournville, including the Forward winning poet Luke Kennard. We also have ballet dancers who dance for Birmingham Royal Ballet. It makes for a really interesting community.
During the pandemic, Bournville really pulled together and supported its own. We set up and ran an emergency food parcel scheme from Bournville Hub and helped to support Street Champions on every road in Bournville. We co-ordinated a VE Day anniversary afternoon tea for the over 60’s delivered to people’s doors by the Street Champions. It’s been great to see how the pandemic has changed people’s habits and has helped revitalize the Village Green with people gravitating towards green and open outdoor spaces. People are generally spending much more time locally rather than going into the city centre. This has been really good for the local, independent shops and the shop local movement in general.
And finally, do you have any exciting plans for the shop in the coming months that you’d like to share with us?
There’s just so much to look forward to in 2022! We can’t wait for the Commonwealth Games to come to Birmingham this summer and we’re looking forward to tying this in with the Big Jubilee Read which features many books from Commonwealth writers. We’re also very excited about the publication of Jonathan Coe’s latest novel about and set in Bournville which is due out in the Autumn. We’re hopeful of a Bournville based launch event and are looking forward to welcoming Jonathan back to Bournville.