Celebrities have come to the aid of a struggling independent bookstore owner after she made a desperate plea on social media to help her pay her bills.
Sapphire Bates, who runs Book Bodega in Ramsgate, Kent, found herself financially crippled by rising energy bills after a “quiet” winter.
Taking to Twitter on Saturday, the 29-year-old retailer said she desperately needed customers to help her pay her £800 bill before Tuesday or face potential closure.
Posting a photo of her empty shop, Ms Bates tweeted: “Winter is killing us, it’s so quiet and we need to make £800 by Tuesday to pay our bills.” This is my current view = no clients. Shop with us and help us stay open!’
His tweet went viral in a matter of hours and has been viewed more than 5.7 million times, with big-name followers including comedian Sue Perkins.
Tweeting to his army of 1.2 million below, the 53-year-old celeb said: ‘If you were thinking of buying a book why not buy it in this beautiful place? either in person or online xx’
From empty to bustling: Sapphire Bates posted a photo of her empty (left) Book Cellar store on Twitter on Saturday, saying she was going to have trouble paying her £800 energy bill. By Sunday, the store in Ramsgate, Kent , was packed with customers after it went viral online (right)
Sapphire Bates (right) outside her customer-filled bookstore after posting on Twitter, which has since been viewed nearly six million times.
Anthony Horowitz, who wrote the popular Alex Rider collection, also lent his support, along with crime writer Ian Rankin, author Jill Mansell and musician Tim Burgess.
And by Sunday, the store was packed with customers and accepting online orders from around the world, and Ms Bates later tweeted: “Thank you #Booktwitter for all your love and support.”
Sapphire, who runs the business with partner Nicholas Turner, says it’s been “a bit crazy” since the post went viral.
“The store has been very busy today with locals but also people from places like Canterbury, Whitstable and further afield than we normally would,” he said.
‘People have also been shopping online. We’ve had orders from people from Italy, the US, Germany, Sweden, everywhere.
‘Our online store doesn’t facilitate international orders, so I’ve managed to send books to a few people myself via Royal Mail.
“Other people have chosen to buy books through advance payments and I will pass them on to charities in Ramsgate.”
Sapphire added: ‘The winter has been hard; I know that if we can get through the next month or two, we’ll make it through our first year of successful trading.
Comedian Sue Perkins was among the celebrities who showed their support for the independent retailer by retweeting Sapphire’s plea for help on Twitter.
Sapphire said she was “overwhelmed” by the support she received after her social media plea went viral. In the photo, her shoppers in her store.
Ms Bates, who runs the business with partner Nicholas Turner, said it had been a very tough winter, with fewer customers coming through the door and sky-high energy bills.
Sapphire (pictured) added that since her tweet went viral, things had gone “a bit crazy”, with authors now looking for book launches at her shop in Ramsgate.
“I always knew it would be difficult to run a bookstore, especially in a coastal city, but it’s still been a shock to the system.”
Ms Bates added that some writers have also offered to hold book signings or talks at her store to help raise their profile.
Speaking of the reception of her plea on Twitter, the 29-year-old said: “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by the response my tweet has received.”
“When I sent it out, I didn’t think anything would come of it, so all of a sudden thousands of people responding felt pretty surreal.
‘The likes of Anthony Horowitz, Sue Perkins, Jill Mansell, Adam Kay and Deborah Frances-White have reached out to show their support, and the list goes on.
‘Some have retweeted my original tweet on their platforms, and others have even offered to stop by and use my shop as a book signing venue.
“Nothing is set in stone yet, but just feeling the love that people are showing is really moving.”