ONE of Totnes’ book stores has won a Muddy Stilettos Award, which celebrate independent lifestyle businesses, for the second year in a row.

The owners of East Gate Bookshop are delighted that customers have voted and put the store at the top of the crop of independent book stores in Devon as it marks Independent Bookshop Week (June 17-24).

Nigel Jones, who runs the store with his partner Claire, said: We work really hard to make the East Gate Bookshop as good as it can be and are so grateful to all the people who took the time to vote for us.

“We would like to thank you all so much, it means such a lot to us to win this award.”

The couple opened the store in December 2020.

“It was something my partner and myself had been considering for some time,” said Nigel. “With over thirty years experience in the book trade between us - combined with a life-long love affair with reading - opening a bookshop in our home town seemed like what we were destined to do.

“We aimed to create a community-minded shop reflecting the interests and passions of the people living in the thriving and unique market town of Totnes and have been overwhelmed by the support we have received.”

Nigel and Claire employ four local people to help out in the shop.

Nigel looks after the buying and the physical bookshop and the online shop.

Claire is a midwife at Torbay Hospital, but still manages to find time for all the accounts and administration that any business has to do.

“We’ve been open for two and a half years now,’ added Nigel.

“The time has flown by and despite the long hours, commitment and responsibility involved we have never once regretted making that long-held dream of opening our own bookshop a reality.”

The couple, who met whilst working in a book store — Ottakar’s —moved to Totnes as they thought it was a nice place to have a family.

During covid they found an opportunity to realise their dream of running their own book store.

“For a lot of people taking on a rental at this time was a bit risky and there was property about for that reason,” said Nigel. “We had already identified the shop we wanted and it was going to be a solicitors but when they decided against it we took it on.”

It was a busy old time especially with three children, a dog, and Claire’s job as a midwife but with a business start up loan and bags of enthusiasm they embarked on their mission and have not looked back since.”

With books on two floors, a large children’s section, a reading room and now four employees the business is going from strength to strength.

“We had queues when we opened and the people of Totnes have been amazingly supportive,’ said Nigel. “The high street is still really vibrant. There are good shops and a gallery next door.”

East Gate Bookshop also runs a series of Wild Book Talks at The Albatross in conjunction with the Bull Inn whereby exceptional nature writers present their books, and discussing the vital topics of restoring nature, regenerative farming, and climate change.