How long has the business been running?
The Shetland Times Bookshop has been in business since 1949.
The Shetland Times Newspaper started in 1872, nearly 150 years ago! In 1926 until 1949 the newspaper was produced from the premises that is now the bookshop. In 1949 the business started to develop, and the shop started out selling stationary such as writing paper, envelopes, pens, and a few Shetland books.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
Although originally selling stationary like writing paper etc, in 1970 demand for books started to increase which saw the shop side of the business grow.
Tell us what you offer/sell?
Children’s pocket money toys
Specialising in Shetland books
What is your favourite thing about being the manager of the business?
Karen says, she just loves getting to choose the books and gifts that they sell in the shop. She also enjoys working with her lovely colleagues, catching up with regular customers and meeting new ones too, including the canine variety - the shop (and staff!) is very dog-friendly.
What do you think has changed the most about the business since you started?
In the 12 years that Karen has been a manager she thinks the biggest changes has been people shopping habits. Karen said that a lot of people now shop online but that isn’t always cheaper or quicker, in fact The Shetland Times Bookshop can order your books and have them in the shop for you to collect within 2 days. Even Amazon may struggle to deliver that quickly!
The business has had to adapt over the last 12 years too and stock more than just books, you will find an array of beautiful gifts, cards, stationary and Shetland souvenirs.
Karen says she really loves working for a business on Commercial Street and believes that Lerwick town centre has improved over the years and now has some unique individual shops.
What has been the most challenging thing to you, as a business manager, over the last year?
Like many businesses the pandemic has caused some challenges, Karen said. Trade had been reduced dramatically over the last 12 months especially when the nation was in lockdown. But as always Shetland is resilient, and the local people have really supported the shops. Commercial Street has a good buzz about it and is a happy place to work, shop and socialise.
What would you say to a customer to encourage them to visit your business?
The shop has a lot to offer, Karen says. Plus, you get a warm welcome from the staff along with their expertise, which is second to none. If you can’t get along to the shop in person, then you can call or email your queries or request for specific books. It is no trouble at all for the staff to try and find what you are looking for, “its what we do” Karen says.
If its not a Shetland book you are looking for then you can browse books online at Bookshop.org. Bookshop.org is an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops. If you want to find The Shetland Times Bookshop, then you can find them on the interactive map, and they’ll will be credited with any purchase that you make
Tell us one interesting fact about you that people may not know?
Part of The Shetland Times Bookshop building was used as a Roman Catholic Chapel. In 1860 when Catholicism was trying to have a presence in Shetland, Fr Theophilus Verstraeten from the Faroe Islands took over the Shetland mission. In 1871, at the age of 39, Fr Theophilus died of smallpox contracted from a Belgian fisherman to whom he had administered the last rites.