THE new manager of a bookshop hopes to see the premises “progress to the next level” as it continues its mission to fulfil the vision of its founder.

St Helens Book launched last November, helped in part by community fundraising effort, after a crowdfunding appeal.

The Bridge Street shop is a charitable community benefit society, set up by the efforts of Brian Leyland, who passed away in February.

As well as a book shop and café the business also has an upstairs space which is hoped to be soon converted into a community space or a wide variety of uses.

The shop also aims to make an impact” for the benefit of the town and seeks to improve literacy levels among children and help social mobility.

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The shop has a new manager, Nik Lowe, who has taken over from predecessor Laura Goodchild.  

Nik, who lives in Islands Brow, and grew up in the town, has a background in retail and was also previously assistant operations manager at Saints’ Totally Wicked Stadium.

“When I applied for the job I was really sold on the vision, it was Brian’s vision that got this off the ground,” said Nik, 42.

“We’re working to become that vision that brian wanted us to be, a community bookshop owned by the community for the community. I was sold on that.”

St Helens Star: Manager Nik (right), with assistant manager CaitlinManager Nik (right), with assistant manager Caitlin

Nik, former manager at Kaspa’s dessert shop on Bridge Street, added: “We want to be a bit more than just a bookshop, we want to develop upstairs and turn that into a community space, for creative writing classes book, clubs, mindfulness sessions, for social improvement and to have a social impact.”  

The premises also includes a spacious cafe area, run by Two Brothers, who also have their premises nearby in Barrow Street.

St Helens Star: The St Helens Book Stop opened in November 2021The St Helens Book Stop opened in November 2021

“We get some college students coming in, and business people sitting there with their laptops, and families. It is a really lovely mix of people.

“We want to become a bit of a community hub in the town, and make sure everybody feels welcome.

“I’ve been here a month and every single customer that has come in has said it’s lovely. We just want people to know that we are here.”

St Helens Star: Brian Leyland founded the St Helens Book StopBrian Leyland founded the St Helens Book Stop

The Book Stop is working with schools, the council and other organisations in the town.

“People come and want to support us, as opposed to getting it from, say, Tesco. We just hope to get more people, that’s the hope and getting the upstairs renovated, that’s the priority and turn that into a community hub.

“That’s what we want to do to progress to the next level.”