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Magazine Heaven, Rushden. Eighty percent of magazine stores in Central London experienced foreclosure

«It is practice for bookstores across the United Kingdom to charge publishers to place their books in the store. At Magazine Heaven we do not practice this». In conversation with Bill Palmer

Magazine Heaven in Rushden

Located one hour away from Central London is Rushden Lakes, an environmental-conservation area owned by the Crown Estate. The locale emphasizes the preservation of its surroundings – reducing waste while co-existing as a shopping hub. Within the confinements of the area is Magazine Heaven, founded and owned by Bill Palmer. Leading up to the opening of Magazine Heaven, Palmer took on a variety of positions in the publishing world, once partnering up with Comag, a joint-venture between Condé Nast and Hearst as their head of Sales and Marketing. «I travelled learning and witnessing the conditions of the publishing world». Palmer then formed Pineapple Media with business partner Steve Hobbes. «Steve was once a client. We spent forty years in the publishing industry. While he carried on Pineapple Media, I worked on roles alongside that».

Upon getting funding and the concept nailed down, Palmer hesitated to initiate the store in the greater Central London area. He shares that eighty percent of magazine stores located in Central London experienced foreclosure. «Profit margins are not enough to ensure survival. It, in fact, does not bring in a steady-amount of income. If the items on sale were designer goods, we could have placed ourselves in London». The size of the store he had in mind would not have fit the budget allocated for rent, coming from a self-funded business. «Rent would have cost us millions in London». Location wise, choosing an area for Magazine Heaven where he could commute from his home to the area within an hour was the idea.

Magazine Heaven’s area and inception

«The Crown Estate, a landmark in the property business in the United Kingdom, had completed a retail concept with an environmental-ethos». The environment of the shopping complex looks modern, minimal and sleek. A visitor could eat outside with nature, take a walk in the park, cycle around the estate or take a canoe out on the lake. «It happened that the area was fifteen minutes away from where I live. I therefore stumbled across it by-chance and was enthralled by it». Being forty minutes away from Central London by train, the owner set forward to establish Magazine Heaven in the Rushden Lakes area. «Apart from people who come to our store from countries for pilgrimage, our set demographic is based in London and parts of the United Kingdom».

Palmer shares that his idea to form a magazine store came from his adoration for magazines as well as what magazines as an entity can offer people. «Bookstores can become a segregation to the people around it. People don’t go into bookstores as the surroundings make them feel out of place». The genesis of Magazine Heaven started out as an idea in the year 2012, brought to life in March of 2018. The name of the store served to explain what the store carried and resembled. «We tossed a few names around and came up with ‘Magazine Heaven’. It rolls off the tongue». They are able to appeal through genres and interests. «We do not want to be a boutique bookstore with white tables and a minimalist environment».

Products selection at the bookstore

Giving space and opportunities to stand-alone publishers and authors, Palmer is open to accepting categories of magazines. «We do not refuse to stock magazines as we are no judge or jury. Publishers globally contact us to sell their magazines in store. Names include ‘F.A.E Magazine’ that focuses on fairy lifestyle, and ‘Scorchin’’, a magazine based on nineties nostalgia. We are here to support publishers». Learning on how to set up a bookstore, a café and understanding what its customers wanted was a challenge. Further, magazines vary in print and quality. «Some magazines look like they have been made on a kitchen table. We put them on stands, giving them a chance, and there are customers who buy them. The magazines we carry have been sold at-least once».

Lampoon, Magazine Heaven
Magazine Heaven gives space and opportunities to stand-alone publishers and authors

Lampoon review: Magazine Heaven’s store

Magazine Heaven culminated from when Palmer was working in the publishing business. Borrowing concept ideas from his travels during his tenure as an executive in the business, he has incorporated them into the store. Publishers are able to splay their books to a customer base. «It is practice for bookstores across the United Kingdom to charge publishers to place their books in the store. At Magazine Heaven we do not practice this». Their focus lies in print media, stocking magazines titles and publications. «We do not intend to limit what our customers could read. That is why we carry a volume of books».

The store is stretched out over three thousand square feet on the ground floor. The building that hosts Magazine Heaven has a floor above, amounting to a total of four-thousand-and-five-hundred feet. The space allows Magazine Heaven to display over one-thousand-and-eight-hundred magazines, face front, at once. Carrying a total of three-thousand-and-five-hundred magazines at a time, the remainder of the publications are also kept alongside the display as stock. Magazines are curated side by side, following a genre to allow access for a customer to choose. Sections are not split up according to magazines that cater to gender, interest and sexualities. «We are witnessing customers purchasing magazines that are not of their interest. The arrangement therefore encourages customers to purchase newfound-magazines on impulse».

Design at Magazine Heaven and Artisan Café

Design aspects were drawn from Palmer’s mood board. Timber characterizes the shelves – designed 1.2 meters wide to ensure the magazines on display had enough room between each other for focus on each title. Steel is lacquered and colors are muted in blacks and dark-browns to shed emphasis on the magazines being sold. «Magazine covers are a work of art. Walking into the store, the focus should be on the colors and covers of the magazines».

On the first floor is Artisan Café that goes hand in hand with the identity of Magazine Heaven. «We offer vegan food options at the café for our customers. A nearby-farm provides milk and the roasting of coffee beans takes place two miles from the store. While, bakers in the area provide cakes». Magazine Heaven makes an effort to partner with small-businesses familiar in their surroundings. Further, customers who have invented sandwiches for the store have given rights to Artisan Café to use the name. In the evenings, before the pandemic, the space at Magazine Heaven transformed into a community hub, offering yoga classes, game nights, live music and hosting book signings.

The store is also a tool that drives traffic to Rushden Lakes. Operating beside retail outlets, Magazine Heaven is a destination area that has positioned itself in the minds of the locals and international audiences. «If we were based in London, patrons would likely take a peek and not come inside». Utilizing social media pages and curating a space that incites audio and visual senses through radio and TV, the space caters to book signings, appearances by local-celebrities, and workshops in cooking and singing. «We have received help from people in the industry. We offer spaces for upcoming artists as well as comedians to use our platform».

Future development at Magazine Heaven

Back issues and old-copies are sold, giving an opportunity that other magazine and book retailers don’t offer. «Being connected in the industry, in fact, allows us to sell copies of magazines that are niche to an area or country». While focusing on a home-based scale, Magazine Heaven caters to their customers abroad, by shipping magazines across to them. They sell graphic arts and manga books for select customers who have an interest for the topic. There are also hand thrown clay pots, beeswax scented candles and repurposed cotton wrapping paper sourced from a charity affiliated with the Dalit community in India. «We stick to doing this as it fits our ethos. It is for a cause. Those who come in for our yoga night sessions purchase these items». Customers have the option to purchase tea made from a tea brewer who infuses them in the neighboring area.

The frequency in magazine publications urges customers to come back to the store on a regular basis. Relying on word of mouth and their social media presence, customers purchase additional magazines on their visit. In their third year of being in business, Magazine Heaven is looking to expand internationally. «In the case we were to open in Berlin, for example, we would be in collaboration with bakeries and roasteries within the locality». While, in the near-future, when the pandemic has dampened, Palmer intends on holding a sound bath within the confinements of the store for customers. 

Magazine Heaven

Rushden Lakes Shopping Park, South Terrace Unit A1b, Rushden, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom

Magazine Heaven is a bookstore in Rushden, United Kingdom, giving space and opportunities to stand-alone publishers and authors.

Pravin Nair

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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