ONE of the area’s most passionate book shop owners is bowing out of the business after three decades.
Former Royal Navy officer Derrick Meakins is preparing to close Baytree Bookshop, in The Precinct, Waterlooville.
At 83 he feels the time is right to finally retire.
Mr Meakins, from Langstone, said: ‘There’s three reasons really. The first is I’ve had a few choice bits of work done like a replacement hip and a double hernia operation so it does get a little bit more difficult.
‘Secondly, my wife Joan is not well and you do ask yourself whether you should be looking after your business or looking after your wife.
‘But finally the lease is up in July and although the landlord has made two or three offers I don’t feel like negotiating a commercial lease in my 80s.’ After leaving the navy in the 1960s he set up the successful Meakins sports shops which supplied Pompey with sports gear and an embroidery factory in North End.
He rescued Baytree and
Chapter and Verse bookshop in the Guildhall, from bankruptcy in 1991 and they both ended up turning a profit within months.
And he has some words of advice for other independent bookshops as they come under intense pressure from supermarkets and online retailers such as Amazon.
‘If you understand business and you use the tools available you can still make a success of a retail outlet,’ he said.
‘With online retailers taking up to 80 per cent of the Christmas trade, it needs somebody energetic enough to exploit all the niches and sensible enough to take advice.’
One thing that has kept customers coming back to the store is celebrity signings.
Over the years Mr Meakins has played host to Peter Ustinov, Delia Smith, Adam Faith and Ben Elton.
His favourites were Alan Titchmarsh, David Attenborough and Michael Palin but he added: ‘Among the best are often local people and local authors who bring to life memories from the past, like Bob Hind and Margaret Foster.’
Mr Meakins may consider offers for the business. Write to him at the shop for details.