Opens up a bookshop at The Station
The kindness project that started in Newcastle in 2017 is spreading the love of literature even further with the Secret Bookshop at The Station.See our handpicked guides to Newcastle
BY ALICIA POOLE
One of Newcastle’s clever kindness projects has just branched out into a bricks and mortar space. Say hello to Secret Book Stuff and their brand spanking new bookshop!
Originally starting in 2017 as a side hobby for PhD graduate and creative writing teacher, Amy Lovat, Secret Book Stuff has grown and grown like you wouldn’t believe. From expanding into markets, hitting the road to now, opening their own bookshop; a lot sure has happened in the past two years!
About six months after kicking off, Amy and her now partner, Laura have gone from strength to strength and this new venture of theirs is no different! But how the two have grown it to where it is today, is a talking point of its own.
“I fell in love with Secret Book Stuff as a concept before I even knew Amy. I had written about it many times and was always trying to find my own secret book, but I never did,” Laura told me.
“Then her sister had sent her one for Christmas that year. We had met by then, and I chose High Fidelity, which is one of my favourite books of all time, that has a character named Laura. I knew that Laura would love it. So, I specifically chose that book for her and then that got us talking even more. We got together shortly after, then it was probably April last year that we started doing markets together,” Amy said.
Putting one foot in front of the other, the pair were loving the constant buzz of Secret Book Stuff, but it just wasn’t sustainable.
“Originally, for every secret book sold online or at markets (for the tiny price of $11) we were donating two books to a local charity or cause. It turned out that we were bleeding money (not to mention hearts and time!) so we restructured the project to make it more sustainable,” Laura said.
To make things more sustainable for the girls, that meant increasing the price; which seems like the smart move to make, but in their case, it didn’t come easily.
“By making Secret Book Stuff more sustainable we were able to keep kindness at the heart of it, as well being kind to ourselves and supporting heaps of amazing charities,” Amy told me.
Before they knew it, they were contacted by Newcastle Transport to help promote the Light Rail, which ultimately was the catalyst behind why they landed themselves a bookshop here at The Station.
“They [Newcastle Transport] wanted to make it a fun and interactive experience for people when the trams launched, and they asked if we would be interested in leaving secret books around,” Amy said.
From there, the creative agency looking after The Station, Enigma, reached out to the girls because they just could not get enough of their cause. Before they knew it, they were handed the keys and the Secret Book Stuff Bookshop was in full swing.
There’s a number of changes to be coming to The Station over the coming months, and the girls from Secret Book Stuff are so excited to be a part of this growing creative hub.
“It’s just a dream to be here. Our direct neighbours, Make Space, are a collective of ten artists, makers and photographers. They’ve just been so supportive and we’re doing some really cool collaborations in the future,” Amy said.
Whilst you can obviously get your hands on some second-hand book treasures from the new shop, you can also pick up some one-of-a-kind gifts. Illustrations from Smith Trading Co, ceramics from Voluptuary Ceramics, framed pressed florals from Pressed Petals, or even a sweet posy.
Partnering with the team from The Grateful, the sale of every posy sold in store, one posy will be donated by The Grateful to the hospital. How nice is that? Giving back never smelt so good.
Still continuing the secret book project, the bookshop is just an extension of that, as well as their lending library; the bookstore honesty system where readers can take one and leave one. Giving everyone access to quality books, without the price tag.
Amongst all of the exciting things that we’ve already spoken about, the girls are also doing something a little special for weddings; wedding favours!
“I used to work a lot of weddings at 48 Watt St, and I remember thinking, imagine if they had books for wedding gifts. You see all of these weird, super cliché kinds of gifts that people get, so we came up with this idea of doing Secret Book wedding favours. A portion of the proceeds go to the charity that the couple chooses, and we have different themes. We have a tacky romance kind of theme, western, or vintage kids’ books,” Laura told me.
This new venture has been quite a crazy ride for the girls, and they have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. With big plans for the space with poetry nights and workshops for the kids at the upcoming Homegrown markets. The Secret Book Stuff Bookshop at The Station might just be your new favourite hang out spot.
“It’s been total madness, but we just love it. I think that’s why we keep going because we just have that passion and drive to make it happen. To be honest, a lot of the time it really doesn’t feel like work. A lot of the time I have to pinch myself and remind myself that this is our bookshop, and our job,” Amy told me.
The whole purpose of the store is to support Books for Outback. With all of the store's profits going towards funding the girls volunteer trips to remote and disadvantaged communities around Australia, delivering books as random acts of kindness to kids and even running kindess projects in schools.
So, get into the Secret Book Stuff Bookshop and help the guys support a great cause by supporting them!