Stanfords journey bookshop launches crowdfunding mission because it fights for survival | Journey
It’s a wet autumn day, a second lock is imminent and like many in Great Britain, I dream of distant shores, sunny highlands and wild adventures. Anything but the unholy pairing of the pandemic and the British winter.
My bookshelves are well equipped to support my fantasies and are reminiscent of past journeys: every map for motorcycling on the Panamericana, a guide for trekking the Sinai Peninsula, the classic Michara 741 Sahara map from my London to Cape Town Ride, a map of Tehran’s metro system, a kayak guide for UK rivers, and more Ordnance Survey maps than you could shake a carbon fiber walking stick.
This is not an uncommon bookshelf for someone who has made a life of traveling, but there’s something else that holds these items together: they all come from Stanfords, the map and travel book store in central London. Stanfords was founded in 1853 and has been operating in Covent Garden since 1901. It’s an institution – and one that is loved by anyone who has ever had the slightest hint of wanderlust.
Judging by sympathy and support on social media, I wasn’t the only one who felt pain at the news that Stanfords was about to close – and it was before news of the second lockdown. The thought of losing Stanfords has something that hits hard. Like the best of shops, it offers more than just that: it’s a home away from home, a calming oasis in a troubled sea, and (under normal circumstances) attracts travelers from all over the world.
Stanford’s original card room
In response to the crisis, Stanfords launched a crowdfunding program with a range of rewards for donations ranging from £ 5,000 to £ 5,000, ranging from a cup of coffee to personalized cards, books, and tours of the card archive. Your goal is to raise £ 120,000 to survive by spring 2021. Then she hopes London has recovered and people can travel more freely. As CEO Vivien Godfrey explains, this amount will enable him to continue to pay the rent, taxes, wages and the additional costs that are incurred to keep the business Covid-proof.
London without Stanfords is unthinkable for me. It seemed like it would always be there – because it was so long ago. Edward Stanford was born in 1827 and started out as a card maker. He became the Queen’s Official Cartographer before expanding into retail, creating and providing maps for Florence Nightingale, Ernest Shackleton, and Amy Johnson. Stanfords has moved with the times and has hosted events for the past several years including book launches and adventure movie nights, and the establishment of the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards. In January 2019, it moved from its location in Long Acre to a new home (just around the corner) on Mercer Walk.
Behind the scenes, the Neville Chamberlain mapping department provided military surveys and designed large format production maps for the James Bond films. From a customer perspective, Stanfords remains an example of an independent retailer with a heart in a landscape with increasingly boring main streets, actively supporting authors and specialist publishers and employing staff with love and knowledge for the shelves.
Cartographer Martin Greenaway has been with Stanfords for 27 years and fears for his future. Visitor numbers have collapsed during the pandemic, resulting in a 75% drop in sales, and online sales have also fallen 15% due to restrictions on global travel. “The store survived a lightning bomb,” said Greenaway. “I really hope we can make it through this, but I’m worried. Stanfords was such a big part of expedition history, and there is no place like it. “
Legend has it that Stanfords survived the lightning bombs because the large number of Ordnance Survey cards were so densely packed that the path of the flames was stopped. It will take more than a ton of OS Landrangers to get out of the current crisis, but globetrotters, armchair travelers, and Stanfords enthusiasts can help. Most obviously, we can still plan our future trips and buy our maps and books straight from the website. We can also donate to the crowdfunder to ensure that Stanfords survives as the spiritual home of the traveler and stays there when the world opens up again.