Book buying has never been better in Tauranga, with new stores opening up, and older ones getting classy makeovers.
The newest is boutique book store Poppies at 127 Willow Street. Over a couple of visits, we found a quirky range of titles from Pulitzer prize-winning authors to respected Kiwi writers. It’s a brightly-lit, friendly store, and you won’t see many book shops so stylishly furnished or well laid out, with a pleasing browse-‘n-linger atmosphere.
‘We’re trying to put the experience back into shopping. Anyone can buy a book online but there’s no real fun or experience in that. What we’re trying to do is create a unique browsing environment,’ says Poppies owner Jan Wright. That ambience is created with the sort of furnishings you might find in any home, from chandeliers and flowers, to colourful rugs on the floor.
Poppies began in Remuera years ago, and there are now 12 stores around the country – including one in Cambridge which Tauranga people have visited for some time. Jan Wright says their basic ethos is they don’t stock items they can’t personally recommend, ‘self-indulgent but it works.’
You won’t find ‘mass market’ books in Poppies; they are all hand-picked titles, even the books on sale. You have to be able to recommend really good titles, Jan Wright says, so people will come back time and again.
Poppies prides itself on being able to source any book for a customer, including out of print titles. As a store close to the Tauranga Art Gallery, Jan also promises an ‘eclectic mix’ of art books. She says it’s a misconception conveyed by the stylish furnishings, that Poppies is a girly shop. They have an equal quantity of fiction and non-fiction for men.
Poppies stock includes children’s books, coffee table books, sale books, cards, CD’s and gifts.
Jan Wright says they operate a loyalty card scheme for customers with every book over a certain value earning a stamp. They have plans for book club-type evenings. The sessions will involve staff discussing their favourite reads, wine, and possibly the group moving on to a local restaurant or bar.
Jan notes that books like other commodities, have gone up in price, and it’s important to be able to offer sale books for around $10 – affordable even for people who mainly frequent the library.
Any review of Tauranga’s independent book stores would be incomplete without mention of Books A Plenty.
The Grey Street store recently picked up the prestigious, well-deserved title of New Zealand Independent Bookstore for 2007. Operated by Chris and Warren Baskett, the store has a big staff who ‘love books and reading’ and are unfailingly helpful.
A large store with a huge number of books on display, Books A Plenty recently re-organised its shelving and display to make categories easier to spot and navigate.
One of the store’s strengths is a comprehensive website, with staff picks and recommendations on new books and old favourites. The site has online ordering and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, nursing and business diploma book lists. The store stocks all the texts needed by students at the city branch of the Polytech (there is also a BAP branch at the Polytech’s Windermere Campus)and the Bethlehem Tertiary Institute. Books A Plenty has been a major, loyal supporter of local authors over the years, always willing to stage book launches and signings.
Another fairly new book shop is Dymocks, at 500 Devonport Road. This is a chain with Aussie origins; William Dymock opened his first book store in Sydney in 1979. The first NZ Dymocks opened in Auckland in 1994, and now there are 7 around the country.
The store claims a wide range of new and backlist books, and the biggest Management section in the Bay.
The company operates a customer order service and will ship your purchase anywhere in New Zealand. Dymocks runs a Booklover Loyalty programme, where you earn five points for every dollar spent. Spend $100, and you’ll earn 500 points and $5 off your next book.
Take Note book stores in Tauranga, the Mount, Te Puke and Katikati have all gone up-market, re-branded as Paper Plus – still part of the same company. One of the country’s biggest booksellers, the company describes Paper Plus as a ‘more sophisticated retail offer’ than the stationery-focused, community feel of Take Note. Paperplus in Grey Street is also a well-used Post Office, and has a Kiwibank branch. The design and layout has been streamlined, with clearly signposted sections to help customers find their way around the store.
Paper Plus doesn’t have a loyalty card system as such, but if you join their e-Club, you get a 15% off discount voucher, and go on the member list for discount offers. This is also the only book store that offers Fly Buys. The Paperplus stores are easily spotted - decked out in new green-and-black branding.
Find the Stores...
Books A Plenty – 28 Grey Street, Tauranga, tel 578-6607, www.booksaplenty.co.nz
Dymocks Tauranga - 50 Devonport Road, Tauranga, tel 927 -7476, www.dymocks.co.nz
Paper Plus – 17 Grey Street, Tauranga, tel 577-9911, www.paperplus.co.nz
Poppies Tauranga – 127 Willow Street, Tauranga, tel 578 27773 , www.poppiesbooks.co.nz