Pokémon GO community helps bookstore deepen connections with neighborhood kids and parents
Niantic gave 1,000 nominated businesses complimentary promotion in Pokémon GO for one year. Now, we are sharing their stories. This week, we take a look at how a children's bookstore in England adapts to the challenges of operating during a pandemic and how the Pokémon GO community helps generate new visitors to the store.
Once upon a time, many years ago, two teachers with a love for children’s literature dreamed of opening a children’s bookstore to share their joy of reading with children. The couple, Jim and Natasha Radford, both avid readers and passionate about children’s literature, took a leap of faith and opened Chicken and Frog Bookshop. Eight years later, located in the heart of Brentwood, England, the bookstore plays an integral role in the neighborhood community.
The bookstore stocks all types of children’s books, and hosts a busy schedule of children’s programs including storytimes, music workshops, book clubs, and author readings. It's also a local favorite for birthday parties. The friendly bookstore is a place where parents and children meet and gather and get advice about books and authors, and if needed, tutoring and reading workshops are available as well.
Giving back to the community is also a passion for the Radfords. Chicken and Frog provides books to Children First Fostering Agency, a national foster care agency. The bookstore accepts book donations during the holiday season, wraps the books and delivers them to the agency to give to the children.
When the pandemic hit, the bookshop experienced two shutdowns, with the first being the most difficult. Without an ecommerce presence, the Radfords relied on phone orders and hand delivered the books to people’s homes. Onsite events were cancelled, and tutoring operations moved online.
Natasha Radford explains, “We missed seeing the kids and families coming in the shop, and having a proper conversation.”
Once the bookstore reopened, sanitation stations with masks and gloves were set up throughout the store. Plastic screens were placed on the purchasing counters, and only a limited number of people were permitted in the store at a time. Despite these changes, the magic of the bookstore still existed, thanks to the Radfords’ commitment to maintaining a whimsical atmosphere that made everyone feel at home.
Radford said, “We wanted our customers to feel that they were being looked after and safe while in our bookshop.”
The second lockdown was less of an adjustment, as the Radford’s were more prepared and customers were also better informed on how to order and pick up books at the store. Plus, the center where they held the tutoring sessions and workshops was permitted to stay open the second time around. That meant that over 70 children were able to attend scheduled reading and writing lessons onsite at the bookstore.
Becoming a Niantic Sponsored Location
Following several nominations by customers, Chicken and Frog was selected for the Niantic Small Business Recovery Initiative, resulting in a Pokémon GO Gym representing the neighborhood bookstore.
According to the Radfords, a massive Pokémon GO community exists in Brentwood. When the bookstore became a Gym, they posted the news on social media and a Pokémon GO group chat on WhatsApp. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of kids and adults who visit the bookstore to see friends or meet up for a Raid. Several families who are Pokémon GO players have also found the bookstore and are now customers.
“Pokémon GO has created a nice sense of community especially during the pandemic when people need added support,” said Radford. “I’ve seen many close friendships form from that connection and it's really cool to see.”
In a shop filled with fairy tales and whimsical stories, it makes perfect sense that the Pokémon GO community adds to the magic of such a special place as Chicken and Frog Bookshop.
Note: The Chicken & Frog Bookshop is complying with all current local guidelines and restrictions regarding their business operations and COVID-19.