Halfway Up The Stairs, Greystones, Co. Wicklow
How it started
I’ve always had a passion for children’s books. When I took a career break from my banking job when my children were little, I started to work part time as an Usborne Books at Home agent.
I quickly realised there was a strong market in Greystones for children’s books and the idea for a children’s bookshop was hatched.
I worked for a few years in Eason as a trainee manager and left in January 2019 to pursue the dream of opening my own shop.
After spending nine months planning and researching my business plan and searching for a premises, I opened Halfway up the Stairs on October 18th, 2019!
I got loads of support from the industry, including authors and illustrators, publishers, suppliers, the Booksellers Association and Children’s Books Ireland. This meant so much to me as there have been very few dedicated children’s bookshops in Ireland, so the encouragement was really valued.
We started with a small team of three and had a great Christmas season in 2019. In 2020 we started to host in-store events and all was going great… until Covid closed everything in March 2020.
How it’s going
Apart from the terrible stress caused by the pandemic, it actually brought us some opportunities that may not have come our way.
We got featured on national media and that brought us customers from all over the country.
Grandparents were very keen to keep a link with their grandchildren and we provided a service where we would choose books to send to their loved ones.
We found that the Greystones community were very keen to support local businesses.
The pandemic forced us to create a website and that has allowed us to open our shop beyond Greystones.
We are now a team of five dedicated expert children’s booksellers. We pride ourselves on our personal recommendation service and finding the right book for every child. We’re also doing a lot of work with schools on building their libraries.
We were delighted when Sarah Webb joined our team as Events Manager and she has programmed online events, in store launches, author readings and school events. We have developed a personal subscription and gift box service called The Gift of Books which can be ordered in store and via our website.
Where you’re headed
We are currently ramping up for the busy Christmas period, and we have lots of events lined up in October.
We are planning more events and school orders for the new year. It will be important to try to increase footfall to the shop as we are finding people are being more careful with their money these days.
We need to demonstrate the wonderful value of children’s books to our customers – that for very little money, books will bring joy to children, develop their literacy skills and creativity and will bring them to new worlds time and time again.
A book recommendation
Be Inspired by Sarah Webb, illustrated by Graham Corcoran (The O’Brien Press) is a wonderful anthology of inspiring young Irish people from the world of sports, fashion, activism, science and more.
We are delighted to be handling the book sales for the launch of this book in Dun Laoghaire Library on October 27th. It is currently available to purchase in store and online.
Images: Ger Holland Photography