Belfast Telegraph

Owner's bid to raise £1k after storm shuts Belfast book shop

By Rebecca Black

It may be three days since Storm Ophelia battered our shores, but a community bookshop in Belfast is still unable to re-open due to damage - and now the owner is asking for the public's help to get it up and running again.

The security roller shutter has become stuck at Belfast Books Limited on York Road following the severe winds that struck Northern Ireland and the Republic on Monday.

And now owner John Junk says he cannot re-open the business unless he can find £1,000 to get the shutter fixed.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that he narrowly avoided being hit by the shutter which he described as "falling down like a guillotine".

"I was leaving at around 6pm, the shutter was getting an absolute pounding by the wind, and it actually nearly came down on my head," he said.

"It's a big shutter but a small door and I am 6ft 4ins so I was standing under it and just as I got out it came down like a guillotine."

Mr Junk, who is originally from Tiger's Bay, opened the store three years ago despite other businesses in the area closing.

He runs it on the ground floor below his professional legal advocacy business after his former base in the Castlereagh Road was damaged during the flag protests.

A crowd-funding page has now been set up appealing for donations.

"There is absolutely no business case to put a bookshop here - there is very low footfall, it is an area of high deprivation. We have been operating for three years but we never have any money," Mr Junk said.

"We have now got to the situation where we have the shutter down, can't open the shop, and are not able to take any money in. Ultimately the cash that comes in to pay the shutter guys comes from the shop so we have got ourselves in a bit of a pickle.

"We sense there is a lot of good will for us out there so hopefully we will get the help we need."

As well as being a business, Mr Junk added the shop serves an important social function with many people coming in simply for a chat.

"It's more than a bookshop, it's a place where people who have got difficulties can come along, and maybe we are the only people they speak to all week," he said."With the shutter being down, people are coming along and thinking those guys are gone. Unfortunately, the shutter is just not within my skillset to fix."

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