If there is a business that knows how to keep our heads, hearts and hands happy, it’s the very vibrant Vibes & Scribes in Cork City. The business started as a small bookshop, founded by Joan Lucey, then diversified into arts and crafts, before expanding further into fabric, wool, yarn, haberdashery and upholstery supplies. This haven of well-being now has two separate stores; one for those who like to read, and the other for those who like to make. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the stores in person, but have really been enjoying their dynamic and colourful posts across their social channels, as well as their obvious delight in books.
Browsing their website, it’s evident that they stock, and have a huge interest in, such a broad range of books; and I know we should never judge a book by its cover, but the collections they post are always so visually pleasing. In complete contrast, a special mention has to be made of their ‘Blind Date with a Book’ initiative, an extremely fun and innovative concept which I absolutely love. You pick your book, wrapped in brown paper, with only the book’s opening line printed on the front to give you any clue as to what you are bringing home with you. This seems to be a store which really knows how to delight book lovers!
As excitement is building all around the country ahead of reopening, I checked in with them to hear what they have missed the most this past year, and what value they feel books hold in today’s world.
What have you missed the most, across this past year, about being open and serving people in-store?
It’s a great feeling to give a customer advice and help them choose a book, especially when they come back into the shop on a later date and tell you they loved it! Hearing feedback from happy customers on their recent reads and generally interacting with the book-loving public has been something we’ve all missed the most. Everyone working in Vibes & Scribes genuinely cares about giving customers great customer service, that’s part of the reason we’ve managed to survive all the challenges the book business has faced over the years. Our very first customer from when the shop first opened some 23 years ago, still comes in on a weekly basis and that’s something we’re really proud of.
In your own experience, and from speaking to customers and other book lovers, what value do books bring to our communities, and society at large?
Stories are a great uniting force. They allow you to see the world through different viewpoints and experiences that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. I think reading and books really do expand people’s minds and help them to be more empathetic and understanding of people different to them.
Have you a memorable experience of serving a customer in-store that you would like to share with us?
The best experiences are always being able to track down and source rare and out of print titles that customers don’t expect you to be able to find! The surprise and joy when you tell them you’ve found a copy of that limited edition book from 1952, from a publisher that doesn’t exist anymore, that they’ve been searching for for years is always memorable.
Have you been up to anything behind closed doors in prep for reopening? What can customers expect once your doors are open again?
We’ve spent this most recent lockdown working really hard on getting a large part of our catalogue online and building up the book side of our online shop. We already had a successful online store for our knitting yarn, fabric and crafting supplies but getting all the books on there was a daunting challenge! Thankfully the response has been great so far. We’re constantly adding to it and that will continue even after we reopen. We’ve always been really proud of the fact that we offer something different from the big high-street chains and wanted to make sure that that was reflected in the titles we stock online.
And lastly, a few parting words from Vibes & Scribes…
We are so looking forward to welcoming back all our loyal customers when we reopen on May 17th, and can’t wait to meet booklovers just discovering our shop for the first time! The past year (and a bit) has been so difficult and challenging for everyone that hopefully the reopening of bookstores can help to bring a little hope and joy into people’s lives again.
A huge thank you to Deborah from Vibes & Scribes for taking time out of this busy week to talk to me. Wishing them all the best for next week and, with travel restrictions lifted, I’m looking forward to finally having the opportunity to visit them in-store.
Check out the Vibes & Scribes website to get a sense of all the lovely items they have on offer, and to help plan your in-store visit from May 17th onwards.
All images in post courtesy of Vibes & Scribes.