Contrary to what you may have heard, Caxton Books & Gallery is not going anywhere! We are hopeful and looking forward to the next 10 years of Caxtons and beyond.
However, due to the pressure of increasing business rents, which has already cost Frinton some of its most cherished businesses, Caxtons has been riding out rough seas for the last two years. We have been doing our very best to keep Caxtons up and running and this has been costly both financially and emotionally. Moreover, in order to conclude negotiations for a fair outcome and to see Caxtons living on for years to come, with trepidation we anticipate further costs.
In order to secure your bookshop and gallery's place on Connaught Avenue, we need your support: calling on our wonderful community and launching a Crowd Funding initiative. Caxtons needs you to keep the shop up and running for good!
“Independent businesses are the heart of the high street”
Caxtons is so much more than just an independent bookseller. We believe that independent businesses are the heart of the high street and an invaluable resource to so many members of the community and regular holidaymakers. Here are just a few things that Caxtons does in Frinton-on-Sea:
First and foremost, Caxtons is a proud Independent Bookseller, maintaining the old-fashioned tradition alongside digital tycoons. Caxtons has put our little town on the map in the publishing world and we were honoured to receive the Independent Bookseller's Award for East Anglia in 2015 in recognition of our efforts to make our bookshop an inviting destination for the booklovers of our region.
However, it’s not all about books! When we took over the long-standing business 14 years ago, the back of the shop had recently been converted into an art gallery. We were thrilled to inherit and nurture the gallery and have delighted in developing this side of the business. One of our missions is to continue to bring in new artists to engage our customers, as well as developing relationships with the artists themselves. We display paintings, pottery, jewellery and gifts by artists from East Anglia and take pride in the fact that in this world of mass-produced goods, we play a part in the promotion of such creativity.
Year-Round Author Events
Caxton Books & Gallery strives to bring interesting authors to Frinton throughout the year, keeping your diaries full! By doing so, we work alongside other local businesses and organisations such as the McGrigor Hall, the much-missed Café 19, Walton & Frinton Yacht Club, Frinton Lawn Tennis Club, Frinton Golf club and Oasis Café at the Free Church. These have included the annual Summer Garden Party hosted in our booksellers’ gardens, Supper Book Clubs, Crime and Dine evenings, book signings and meet the author events. We also do our utmost to support local aspiring authors: it is our policy to always provide a space in the shop to display their books and offer advice and guidance to budding authors to avoid the financials pitfalls of self-publishing.
Following the brainchild of Councillor Robert Bucke, who brought the cinema back to Frinton, we were thrilled to carry the baton and establish Cinema-on-Sea, which we have successfully run for 10 months of the year since 2011. Beyond a jolly evening watching films that Sally and Judith curate for the audience, the cinema gives local individuals access to a social, friendly environment, familiar faces and a nostalgic cinema experience with refreshments and ice-cream served during the interval.
Supporter of Local Schools
Caxtons believes in the power of words and the magic of books. Not only do we take wonderful authors into schools free of charge, but we have also taken various famous book characters into schools on World Book Day: Horrid Henry, Kipper and Hugless Douglas to name but a few! Caxtons has also had the privilege of supporting two local schools in re-launching their libraries, curating book lists and supporting their book donation schemes. Furthermore, we have run school book groups from local primary schools in the shop with squash and biscuits to further promote the love of books within the young people of our community. Every year we welcome classes of avid readers from nursery schools to secondary schools into the shop to receive a free World Book Day book from us and delight in seeing them in their book-themed costumes.
Frinton Literary Festival
Sally, as voluntary Chair of the Literary Festival, has continued the legacy of Philomena Dwyer and together with a dedicated committee has helped to gain Frinton a strong reputation in the publishing world, allowing the festival to secure big names for author events. This has taken the Frinton Literary Festival from strength to strength and made it a firm fixture in the Frinton calendar.
For the Community
We know how much the community enjoys having an independent bookshop and we are always happy to go above and beyond for anyone. We regularly offer our services free of charge to act as a box office for the Saxon Theatre, Stagestruck Academy and the Frinton Players and our notice board acts as a free advertising and information point for local societies and charitable bodies. Caxtons runs several book clubs, which often provides an introductory social group for new residents to make those initial lasting connections, or for regular members to catch up and ruminate over the nuances of a novel over coffee and cake. Caxtons also fosters new ventures and interests of our customers, giving them the space to develop as a group and flourish – including both a craft group and a writers' group. And of course, like all local small businesses, we can always be counted upon to provide raffle prizes for local school and charity fund-raising events.
“Caxton Books always has its doors open to all members of the community”
Sometimes the value of a bookshop cannot be measured or quantified. We are often the first port of call for new residents and new visitors, who come in to get their bearings. Most importantly, Caxton Books & Gallery always has the door open to all members of the community, many of whom enjoy the continuity of a familiar face and a trusted ear, or who just enjoy popping in for a browse and a calm retreat: a welcome break in a busy day.
Caxtons has been at the heart of the high street for more than 40 years. When we took over the baton in 2004, two women with little experience and a shared enthusiasm, we felt a little intimidated by the extent to which Caxtons already belonged to the community. We wanted to do our best to make Caxtons the best it could be. Passionate about books, the joy of reading and art, we put all our energy and emotion into nurturing and expanding the little bookshop and gallery on the high street, to create the shop that you value today.
As the current owners, we feel duty bound on behalf of Frinton to ensure that the legacy of Caxtons is preserved for future owners and for future generations. We want Caxton Books and Gallery to be a feature of the high street indefinitely, and to move from strength to strength as a successful bookseller and community asset of Frinton.
Your bookshop and gallery is facing serious challenges. Not only from the world of internet shopping, but also from the rising costs of running a small business. There is an urgent need to preserve those well-loved, well-established businesses which form the back-bone of Frinton as a wonderful place to live and holiday destination. To lose these businesses would have a detrimental effect not only on each customer, but on the town itself: should the high street continue to wane, Frinton may lose its desirability as a tourist destination, for new buyers and new revenue. For this reason, we feel determined to do everything we can to stay on the high street.
After long and arduous legal negotiations, we find ourselves looking ahead at the prospect of a 60% increase in rent. We have tracked current rent projections and have had an independent surveyor confirm that the proposed rent is at the upper limit of what could be considered fair. The ongoing discussions for a more reasonable outcome has already involved hefty legal costs, as well as fees for the independent valuation to give us firmer ground to stand on.
Your generous pledges will go towards:
- Ongoing solicitor and surveyor fees
- Supporting the business to weather the proposed rental increase
- The continuation and development of community activities, such as book events and Cinema-on-Sea
We are not asking the community to fund the bookshop indefinitely. We believe that the book and art industries are prospering, and we will soon be back on our feet, independent and thriving. We are asking for support to assist with the fees that fighting for a fair outcome has incurred, and because we want to be able to continue providing community services while we adjust to inevitable changes.
If we reach our ambitious target, we may also be able to rejuvenate the shop front, which has been put on hold during this uncertain time, or investing in our own cinema equipment!
We hope that our cause is enough in itself to gain your support. But to show how appreciative we are, every one of our pledgers will receive a Caxtons tote bag and personalised thank you note.
For those who go the extra mile, we have also put together a list of wonderful rewards to thank you for your pledges.
The following paintings have been kindly donated as rewards for our supporters by artists Simon Carter, Dawn Hall, Tony Smith and Sarah Milne:
Come along to the shop to see them displayed in our window, and check out our rewards list to find their pledge value.
When it comes to books, we joyfully celebrate the tactile page-turners, promote the personal touch of recommendation and celebrate bringing the reading experience to all generations. When it comes to art, we could spend hours engaging in aesthetic debate, celebrating the talents of our artists. Your support will ensure that Caxtons can make up for the financial fall out of the fight so far, and bolster against the upcoming storm.
We are incredibly grateful to anyone who is able to pledge to support us. But, if you are unable to support us by pledging, you can still be a huge help to us by helping to share this campaign as much as you can! Books and art deserve to have a place on Connaught Avenue, so please spread the word by any social media, word-of-mouth, letter, post card, phone call – anything at all! The more people we reach, the better our chances of being here to stay.
You can also show your support by coming in to take a photo with our <3 Caxton sign to put on our Community Tree, or send us a selfie with a book to put in our window!
A big thank you – from Sally, Judith and Caxton Books & Gallery