Sounds like a bad joke, doesn't it? Sadly, Hay is now having to steel itself for yet another fight with our local County Council who are trying to impose cuts on our library services. Their ultimatum is that the town has to come forward with a plan for taking over the running of the services, or the County Council will begin consultation on the closure of Hay Library. The internationally famous town of books, closing its library. Insert your own punchline here!
We sell a wide range of books of course, but a library has so many other benefits - a resource to use the internet, browse the papers, meet people - it's the heart of a community.
We are aware that Powys CC are to some extent between a rock and a hard place - the cuts are an indirect result of austerity imposed from Westminster - but Powys are the face of the cuts, so it's Powys we have to fight. Lesley Arrowsmith, scribe supreme of Hay, sums up the state of play perfectly on her blog.
In a week which has also seen Powys exposed to ridicule over their use of outsourced consultants, and hot on the heels of their failed attempt to close our local High School, you might think they'd know how to pick their battles. We'll keep you updated on the fight to save the library service in Hay.
We know many of our customers love the jewellery we stock from Just Trade. Their designs are perfect for our shop, and the projects they work with are a true inspiration, keeping traditional skills and crafts alive while offering opportunities to disadvantaged groups in India, Peru and Ecuador.
It really lifted my spirits to see this fantastic photo of Ali Cave, the Operations Director at Just Trade.
Ali is pictured loading a huge order which Just Trade received from Laura Ashley, one of the best-known names in terms of interior design on the British High Street. Laura Ashely have bought stock to go into all 200 of their stores in the UK, as well as it going to their Japanese franchise.
Ali told me, "They have ordered across all three projects we work with. So crochet from Peru, Tagua from Ecuador and Brass from India. The work really helped our producers get back on their feet after the earthquake in Ecuador."
You might think it's a bit odd that I'm getting so excited about seeing one of our core product ranges being distributed to another shop, which might be seen as a competitor of ours. But for us at Eighteen Rabbit, this is exactly what we're all about! We don't want to be pigeonholed simply as a "fair trade shop" to be treated in the same way as a charity shop. Our mission from the very beginning has been to take fair trade into the mainstream - to attract customers who simply love the products we sell. Ultimately, as we're fond of saying, we want to make "fair trade" obsolete - what we're doing should be the norm, rather than the virtuous exception.
Huge congratulations from all of us here at Eighteen Rabbit to Ali and the team for all their hard work. Look out for Just Trade products in Laura Ashley stores from October, and remember where you saw them first - you can be ahead of the curve by ordering your favourite from us today!
We had a lovely customer visiting us this week from Belgium. As well as stocking up on some of our fabulous fair trade treats, he was also keen to show us his preferred method of payment - a Fair Trade Credit Card!
The New B card is issued in Belgium and works on a co-operative model with any profits being reinvested into sustainable projects. Our friend explained that they had been unable (so far) to get the financial administration in place to run as a credit card as we would know it here in the UK, so at the moment the card works a bit like a pre-paid card - you load credit on to it and then spend it wherever you wish.
There is loads more information on the website, though I did have to use Google Translate - my Belgian is a little rusty :) It seems like a very innovative model and one that could be welcomed here in the UK given our recent history of banks acting in a less than transparent manner. Time and again "people power" has shown itself to be an effective tool for change - and projects like New B could be the start of something big. If you see an example of an unusual fair trade project in action, let us know and we'll feature it on the blog.
You can't have missed one of the biggest trends of last year - colouring in books for grown ups! Whether it was to aid relaxation, increase mindfulness, or just kill some time during your lunchbreak, they were everywhere. We even featured a fabulous Day of the Dead colouring book!
Now the trend continues with this amazing jewellery made from recycled pencils and crayons. A playful, quirky way to express yourself - each one is unique and made in India by fair trade group Aspiration in New Delhi. They've been a huge hit in the shop so far - we hope you love them.
The greatest waste of time since coals were first taken to Newcastle? Perhaps! But we think it could work. Let me explain more...
Hay is a treasure trove of second hand books. There are over two dozen second hand book sellers in our town of fewer than 1500 men, women and children, all selling a cornucopia of adventure, wisdom and excitement. The second hand books, along with the attendant Hay Festival, and the friendly people who have made their home here because of them, are the main reason we moved to Hay in the first place.
There are very few books you can't get in Hay. But one slice of the market which is paradoxically thin on the ground is a selection of new books - with the exception of the world-class Booth Books, most of the shops in town focus solely on the second-hand market. Great if you're looking for a lovely copy of "100 Years of Solitude" with an authentic 70's cover - not so good if you're after the latest Naomi Klein.
The other gap in the market in terms of "entertainment" is CDs and DVDs - again we have the awesome Tangled Parrot, and Haystacks in Backfold, but not many options if you need the new One Direction CD for your niece or nephew. And that, friends, is where Hive comes in.
Hive, for those of you unfamiliar, can basically be seen as an ethical alternative to Amazon for your home entertainment needs. They get brand new books, CDs, DVDs and the like to your door in the blink of an eye at competitive prices - all the while supporting high street shops in the UK. For every purchase, you can nominate a bookshop who'll then receive a percentage of the cost of your items (we hope you'll pick us!). You can either get the items delivered to you direct, or have them sent to us - we'll look after them until you can collect them (and no, we don't open them first to see what you've been buying).
All in all it's an amazing win-win. We would never want to take sales away from the incredible second hand book shops that have made Hay world famous, but if you're looking for something they don't stock, here's a way of doing it without resorting to the dreaded Big A. Let us know what you think!