July 20, 2017

Britain’s “bookseller from hell” is moving on


Hawes Market House, which houses Bloomindales. Photo by Paul Shreeve, via www.geograph.org.uk.

Steve Bloom is (or was) the owner of second-hand bookshop Bloomindales in Hawes, in northern England’s Yorkshire Dales.

Such a puntastic shop should surely have been a success. But unfortunately Bloom is, by his own description, “not really a people person.”

Calling a customer “a pain the arse” late last year didn’t help his reputation. At the time, the Press Association reported he’d justified the insult by saying, “He arrived just as I was closing, but I allowed him to go in and browse around. But he ignored me completely when I asked for my 50 [pence], which didn’t help things at all.”

Yes, that’s right — Bloom also charged an entry fee to browse his bookshop. (Fifty pence is equivalent to about sixty-five cents American.) The insulted customer in question, a visiting doctor from Shropshire, reported the incident to his local council.

The doctor got off lightly — on another occasion, Bloom called the police when a visitor refused his 50p entry fee, and one customer was incensed enough with the bookseller to dump dinner all over him. No wonder he’s earned a reputation as “the Basil Fawlty of Books.”

The Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council has received twenty complaints about Bloom’s behaviour — two this month, as reported by Joe Willis at Richmondshire Today. One, from a customer named David Morley, reads:

We had a pleasant visit to Hawes today that is up until we visited the local bookshop Bloomindales — what a very unpleasant rude man this is.

I asked for a specific author of book and he was trying to charge me to look around. I felt very uneasy and uncomfortable in his shop and left straight away after this, I was so taken back and shocked that my family actually left Hawes altogether, such a shame the trip ended in this way, a discredit to Hawes.

John Blackie, chair of the Parish council (which has had five discussions about Bloom since 2013), responded to Morley’s complaint:

It could be though his renewed bout of rudeness and unpleasantness he showed towards you and Mr Wright is that it is his last stand because the chairman of the Hawes Market House Trustees, Graham DiDuca, reported at the July meeting of the parish council that Mr Bloom has sold his business and is expected to be leaving the town for good in the next two weeks.

If so in the opinion of very many local people, the parish council, and myself, it is not a moment too soon and we cannot wait to wave goodbye forever to a trader that in his appalling and utterly unacceptable attitude towards his customers.

You can find a barrage of negative (and wonderfully entertaining) reviews of the bookshop on yell.com, calling Bloom an “odious little man,” “a disgrace to the trade,” and, imaginatively, “the south end of a north bound horse.”

There are also some positive reviews to counteract the negative — one urging “thin-skinned, humourless people to simply avoid the place,” and one stating, “You had a precious resource; a bookseller who was an actual human being. Did you value him? No, you did not, and now he’s gone.”

And what did Bloom himself have to say about selling the shop? He told the Willis he’d been the object of a “vicious witch hunt,” and said the council had had nothing to do with his decision:

“I hope that none of the people who have been trying to drive me out are claiming any kind of victory because it isn’t, I have left of my own free will.

“It got very difficult sitting in my shop listening to people talking about me as the man who charges 50p entry.  I will not miss the moaning.

“It is like Donald Trump, they can make a lot of smoke and noise but they cannot get rid of him and so it was with me. It was a feud, there’s no doubt about that.”

Yeah, comparing yourself to Trump is never good. Rudeness or a bit of fun, the era of Bloom’s Bloomindales is over. The business apparently has been bought by a local couple.



Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.