IN THE SIXTIES, there were at least six antiquarian/second-hand bookshops in Hampstead village. Two or three of them were in Flask Walk, a quaint passageway leading northeast from Hampstead High Street. Now, there is only one in Hampstead (apart from an Oxfam bookshop), and that is Keith Fawkes’s store on Flask Walk… currently, the last of the breed.
The amiable Mr Fawkes established his shop in 1964 when there were already a few dealers of second-hand books in the village. Over the years, he has branched out into antiques and bric-a-brac whilst retaining his well-stocked bookshop. It is a treasure house of interesting books, all packed into lines of shelving separated by corridors so narrow that it is difficult for one person to squeeze past another.
Very kindly, Keith Fawkes and his bookstore manager, Sam, have agreed to display and sell a few copies of my new book about Hampstead, “Beneath a Wide Sky: Hampstead and its Environs”, which is also available from Amazon (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09R2WRK92). While researching my book, Keith provided me with some information about another former Hampstead antiquarian bookseller, the illustrious Francis Norman, about whom I will relate more in a future post. Keith is acknowledged in my book.
So, next time that you are in Hampstead, do take a stroll along Flask Walk and look in at Keith Fawkes before having a pint in the nearby Flask pub, also mentioned in my book.
In the UK, we have ‘charity shops’, where (mostly) used goods are sold to make money for charities. In the past, charity shops were good places to find really reasonably priced bargains. This is no longer the case. Those who run charity shops are ‘wising up’. Many of them assess the value of the goods they receive by checking how much similar items are being sold on the internet. This has caused prices in these shops to rise gradually. This is quite sensible for the charities, which would like to raise as much money as possible.
I like visiting charity shops to browse the shelves of second-hand books, which they often contain. One charity shop, which will remain unidentified and is in my home neighbourhood, is managed by a person who must be aiming for very high targets in his shop. The prices of the used items in ‘his’ shop are high. Many of the used books on sale in this particular outlet are often at least half the price of what they would be if they were unused and new. The result is that the same books remain unsold on his shelves for months on end. The manager is hoping that they will raise much for the charity. However, they take up space, and are not making any money for his charity. This is the cost of greedy pricing policy.
Other charity shops within the neighbourhood, even those that specialise in selling books, price far more reasonably than the fellow described above. If that person, whom I shall not name, is reading this piece, I hope that he will begin to realise that people visit charity shops, not because they are desperate to buy something, but because it is enjoyable discovering a bargain.