The newest bookstore owner in the U.K. is “very, very excited” after winning the shop in a raffle.
Paul Morris, who opened Bookends in Cardigan with his wife in Wales, said he wanted the legacy of the bookstore to continue and to end up in good hands.
"It wasn't about the money, it was about the books," he said in an interview with CTV News Channel on Thursday.
"We done the hard work of running it for four years... and it was doing quite well. And we wanted that to continue so we thought we'd just give it away to somebody."
Despite the bookstore making a profit and likely fetching over 30,000 pounds (C$51,000) if he had sold it, Morris said that health reasons forced him to step down.
"I can't keep doing this in the wintertime, it's too cold," he said. Morris, who had spent years working in the book industry, told The Guardian that he had decided to open the bookstore after choosing to retire early at 52 when the osteoarthritis in his legs worsened.
The couple decided to give the store away and enable someone else’s dream of running a bookstore.
“There have been so many book shops that have closed over the years and I’ve got a lot of regular customers that love the bookshop,” he explained. “I wanted it for the community so it would continue.”
They thought “it’d be a bit of fun” to raffle off the store to willing customers who spent more than 20 pounds (C$34) in the bookstore."They had the option, if they wanted to, to put their name in a hat," he said. In total, 59 people entered the draw.
Morris was surprised by the amount of interest people took in winning the store, considering how small his town is. Cardigan, Wales is a community of just over 4,100, according to 2011 census data.
In a ceremony held on Sept. 1—complete with Abba’s “The Winner Takes It All” playing for the crowd—Morris pulled out the name of Ceisjan “C.J.” Van Heerden, a Dutch man who had regularly stopped by the shop over the years.
"He's very, very excited actually," Morris said, speaking for Van Heerden.
He added that the new owner has invited his friend of nine years to come from Iceland to run it with Van Heerden. What’s stranger still is that Van Heerden and his future Icelandic business partner have never actually met in person.
Morris agreed with the idea that the whole scenario seemed like it was ripped out of a book. He joked, saying “I feel a book coming along actually.”
On Nov. 5, Morris will officially leave the store, and he and his wife are planning to buy a camper van and drive across Europe. They even hope to visit Canada sometime in 2019.
“I’ll come in the summer,” he laughed, saying he’ll avoid the chilly weather. “I’ll make sure I’m wrapped up very warm, anyway.”