Last week, Scorpio Books quietly opened the doors of a dedicated children’s shop in the heart of the Ōtautahi Christchurch CBD. The sunny new shop is just a hop, skip and a jump from Scorpio Books, across the Five Lanes courtyard in the BNZ Centre.
Opening a new retail venture during COVID restrictions would be a daunting prospect to most, but co-owners Dave Cameron and Jo Hewitson are no strangers to a challenge, being one of the first businesses to return to the CBD after the earthquakes. Despite the soft opening, the outpouring of enthusiasm and goodwill from Cantabrians confirmed that the city has sorely missed having a children’s bookshop in town. Staff have been kept busy with a steady flow of customers brought in purely through social media, word of mouth, or happening upon it by chance.
‘The interest and joy on people’s faces when they walk through the door has been such a pleasure to see,’ says co-owner Jo Hewitson. ‘People have been so quick to congratulate and thank us for taking the plunge, which makes up for the opening nerves! We have a great community of readers in the South Island – we’re very lucky with our customers.’
As was the case with the Scorpio fitout, Hewitson had a very hands-on role, not least of which was constructing an incredible floor to ceiling tree sculpture out of wood salvaged from their property at Little River.
‘We wanted to set up a treasure trove for the children of Ōtautahi, and the child within all of us. A cosy place to find comfort, delight, wonder, exploration and discovery. We can’t wait to share the joy of storytelling with a new generation of scorplings and their whanau.’
We wanted to set up a treasure trove for the children of Ōtautahi, and the child within all of us. A cosy place to find comfort, delight, wonder, exploration and discovery.
Owners Dave Cameron and Jo Hewitson said, ‘Since our return to the city centre in 2016, our children’s section has seen the biggest expansion—filled to the point of bursting! When the opportunity arose to take on such a beautiful new space, it seemed the obvious thing to do, despite it being a challenging time for retail.
‘Now we have room to showcase the abounding best of children’s publishing, celebrate local authors and provide something for everyone, better than ever before!’
‘There is a wealth of passion and knowledge for children’s books amongst the Scorpio team, without whom this shop would not have been possible. We are all very excited about beginning this new journey and where it might take us in the future. There is nothing more rewarding than putting a good book into the hands of a budding reader, and we’re lucky so many of our customers share that joy.’
There is nothing more rewarding than putting a good book into the hands of a budding reader, and we’re lucky so many of our customers share that joy.
Staff are busily preparing for the official launch celebration on NZ Bookshop Day on 9 October, ever optimistic that the show will go on!
Bel Monypenny is a writer, editor and book pusher from Melbourne who now calls Christchurch home.