From September 2021 to September 2022, Typeset CIC operated a bookshop out of a pop-up retail space offered by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. With this space we were able to reach a local community of creative people, connecting and inspiring people.
During our first year, we were able to work with local organisations such as ROAR, Sheffield University, Barnsley College, and the Workers' Education Association, as well as becoming the only shop in Rotherham to be members of the Booksellers' Association and participate in the National Book Tokens scheme. We also became registered as a hub for the Arts Award, which recognises young people's skills in arts and leadership. Work placement students, interns, and volunteers all brought the space to life while acquiring valuable skills and experience.
Every week, someone would come into the shop and share their feelings of relief and hope at Rotherham finally having a bookshop again. In addition to the inspiring and vital contributions of Grimm & Co and the charity book swap location in the bus station, there is a real need for the kind of space we were able to offer, as a coworking space and independent bookshop specialising in arts, crafts, and culture. We believe that when people express sadness or frustration at Rotherham's lack of shops, it's not because of a practical need for places to buy goods, but because of a social and cultural need for casual spaces to spend time with others and experience new things. We aim to offer such a space to people, in as inclusive a way as possible.
We all felt some heartache when we decided to leave our little retail unit and put the business into storage for a while. Seeing a business close can reinforce a negative narrative about Rotherham - in retail "closure" can seem to be synonymous with "failure", and as shop after shop closes in Rotherham it can feel like the town itself is in some sense "failing". So we want to be clear: Typeset isn't gone forever. We will spend our hibernation period working to find the funding and support required to open a new Rotherham location next year, at least for a few months as a pop-up space. One day we hope to find permanent premises that are accessible enough and large enough to serve the needs of our community.
In the meantime, we will continue to operate online. We hope to continue to contribute to ongoing conversations about the future of our town and be one small part of local efforts to foster a vibrant creative community. We hope that people who valued our contribution to the town will continue to follow us online and support our ongoing work.
It is difficult to capture in words the gratitude that we feel to everyone who contributed to Typeset, either by working with us, buying books, renting coworking desks or event space, or just by visiting regularly and offering words of support. Thank you all so much for showing up for our town.