THE popular Christmas window display at Gullivers Bookshop has returned to delight Wimborne shoppers.
The High Street store is owned and operated by the Angel family, who also run Square Records in Wimborne and Westbourne Bookshop in Bournemouth.
Malcolm Angel began making the impressive displays around 10 years ago, starting with “just parcels and a Christmas tree”.
They have progressed over the years and now feature complex settings and moving parts.
A previous display was nominated for an international visual marketing award, coming second only to world-famous toy store, Hamleys.
“We love to celebrate Christmas, and what better place to do this than in Wimborne,” said Malcolm. “I try to improve year on year. We get letters saying, ‘Little Jimmy can’t wait to come down and see the window’. We’re victims of our own making.
“The displays are like pantos, parents will often use their children as an excuse to come and have a look in the windows. We want people to look in the window and forget all the horrible things in the world.”
This year, the 74-year-old received help from his granddaughter Bethany, 23.
“She’s a terrific artist, and she wanted to do her own window,” he said. “We’re competing a little.”
Describing the display, he went on: “We have a nice Christmas cottage. You don’t know what’s behind the door – it’s Christmas. The house is guarded by the nutcrackers, who are very popular at the moment.”
Previously in his career, Malcolm managed the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne, but his wife Anne has worked at Gullivers for decades.
“The shop opened in 1969,” he said. “But around 11 years ago the owners left and we decided to take ownership.”
Busy Malcolm also organises the Wimborne Literary Festival, where he’s previously interviewed the likes of Tony Robinson and Brian Blessed.
Smaller authors are also invited, where they are given the chance to speak alongside more established names.
As an author himself, Malcolm understands the significance of giving new talent a chance.
And in addition to offering all the bestsellers, Gullivers stocks many signed and special edition copies.
“Top authors will go into a publishing house and sign thousands of books,” Malcolm said. “These go to top indies like us.”
Gullivers, and other independent bookshops, are able to compete with the online market through the Booksellers Association (BA), which offers support and advice to 95% bookshops in the UK & Ireland.
“We all work together to fight off the internet,” he said. “Hopefully, you can walk into our shop blindfolded, pick up a book, and walk out with something you like.”
The Wimborne shop offers next-day collection on its stock which, combined with low prices, makes it an attractive proposition for schools looking to purchase stock.
“People working at schools also have a moral fibre,” said Malcolm. “They’d rather buy their books from somewhere local, especially when it’s the same price, with fast delivery.”
And shop staff also get the chance to write about books, with multiple reviews published on the website each week.
For Malcolm, this is because “proper booksellers advise you on a book and introduce you to new things”.
Gullivers will be open every day of December in the run-up to Christmas.
But despite the busy time for the shop – windows in particular – Malcolm said he doesn’t intend to slow down anytime soon.
“I’ll never retire,” he added.