Selling an independent store can be a complicated process, including finding just the right person to take over the shop.
A Welsh bookstore owner decided to streamline the process by raffling off the store to a loyal customer. Any customer who came in and spent more than £20 ($26) was eligible to win.
The winner turned out to be a Dutchman, one who's eager to take over the shop.
A surprise bookshop owner
The shop, Bookends in Cardigan, Ceredigion, opened about 4 years ago by married couple Paul and Lelia Morris. They decided to retire from the bookshop business because Paul's osteoarthritis was worsening, and rather than selling the shop, they wanted to give someone else the opportunity to fulfill their dream of owning a bookshop.
So, for the past three months, any customer that has spent the required amount on books was entered into a contest to win the store.
"I thought about selling it, but I thought instead, let's give someone an opportunity in life which they might not otherwise have had. The principle was to make sure the shop continues in good hands," Paul told The Guardian.
The name of the potential new owner was drawn from a hat that contained the names of 60 candidates, and the winner was a Dutchman named Ceisjan van Heerden who currently lives near Lammas. Van Heerden wasn't present at the raffle drawing, so he found out he was the new owner of Bookends via a text message.
"I was so shocked when I heard I had won," he told The Tivyside Advertiser. "It's surreal and I had a coffee and a sit down to take it all in."
A farm-sitter before he became a bookshop owner, Van Heerden will run the shop with his friend, Svaen Bjorn from Iceland. The men have been friends through the internet for almost 10 years, but they've never actually met in person.
"It might sound strange, but we are sure we can make it work and it is just an amazing opportunity," van Heerden said.
Taking over Bookends in such an odd fashion — Abba's "The Winner Takes It All" played during the drawing — makes it a part of tradition. Paul, who worked in the book industry for a number of years, decided to open a bookstore after he found an eBay listing for 18,000 books from a retiring bookshop owner.
"I thought it sounded fantastic. He'd moved the contents of his bookshop into his house, and wanted everything to go to the same person. We did a deal, and a friend and I drove a lorry to Great Yarmouth to collect them all," Paul told The Guardian.
"I always wanted to have a bookshop, but I've had my stint, and now it's time for someone else to take over."
Van Heerden and Bjorn will officially take charge of the shop on Nov. 5.