• November 28, 2019

The independent bookstore was once the heart and soul of every high street and the mainstay of every shopping hub. However, like many sectors of the retail industry, the digital age and changes in trading conditions have sadly seen many of these once-ubiquitous stores disappear.

In the face of these challenges, we’re delighted that one of our community’s best loved, longest standing retailers is being revived by someone who lives and breathes the written word. Daniel Jordon has recently taken over what was formerly Brays Books – a stalwart of Darling Street since local identity Philip Bray opened the doors back in 1969 – relaunched it as Roaring Stories.

Dan’s first job at 15 was in a bookstore in the city, where he says he “really got an education, discovered the joy of reading and learned about the world and travel.” His passion evident, he was taken under the wing of management and soaked up everything he could learn like a sponge. Since then his career has seen him move between the retail side of books and the publishing and media side of the fence, working for Penguin Books, the commercial arm of the ABC and major retail groups. Having contact with authors and publishers fuelled his passion and getting his schooling under some of the smartest minds in the industry gave him an invaluable understanding of customer loyalty and ownership.

“Brays came up for sale about a year ago,” says Dan. “I know the Balmain market well, I knew the shop and I really believed it still had many years left in it. I could also clearly see some fresh opportunities that could be explored while retaining all of the best bits of Brays, one of which is the staff. They really are the backbone of the business and having them stay on has been this really beneficial constant throughout the transition. Our mix of staff across different age groups reflects the diversity of our clients. They have an incredible, complementary breadth of knowledge and interests and a great community spirit. Many of our customers rely solely on their recommendations so there’s a huge element of trust. Reading a book is an investment in people’s precious time, so we want to make sure that they have the best possible experience.”

“Our building has so much history, dating back 130 years. Mindful of approaching any changes gently, we worked collaboratively with a retail design expert who brought a unique creativity to the project. The result is a space that reflects what the shop once was while taking it into its next phase, reworking the configuration to allow for our expanded range and opening up the courtyard to provide a relaxing space for people to sit and read.”

“Now that the store is running on all cylinders, we’re really focused on introducing an author event program in the new year. We’re working closely with publishers to bring in some big names as well as some unknown authors who we see as important to the cultural landscape.”

“One of the strengths of a good bookstore is discoverability. Customers love that element of surprise, of finding interesting new things in a genuine way, whether it’s on their own or with our help. It’s one of the joys in this commoditised age. Book selling is an undervalued art that’s about so much more than just the retail perspective. It’s such an important cultural and community service that goes well beyond the transactional. People are coming back around to the idea of experience, of community, of the more human element, and as a fiercely independent retailer I hope that we can do justice to what was an icon of the Balmain strip.”

Drop into Roaring Stories and do your bit to support our local businesses this Christmas – we need to get behind them more than ever.

268 Darling St, Balmain

9810 5613

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