Greene's bookshop - our new shop

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October 2020     Many Dubliners remember Greene's bookshop at No.16 Clare Sreet, just off Merrion Square. It was a Dublin institution, another Bewley's or Switzer's. Since 1843 it was a book shop, and also a supplier of school and college textbooks for generations of Irish students. It was where Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, WB Yeats, James Joyce and many others browsed, read or passed time. By the 1990s it was getting somewhat ramshackle, with piles of books building up on the stairs, shelves so crammed that it was overwhelming and 'bargain books' on tables on the pavement outside, under its famous green canopy. A post office opened on the ground floor at some point, as well as a counter selling sweets and newspapers. And then it finally closed in 2007. Before Greene's it had been a ladies hosiery shop, and before that, from the late 1700s, it had been a family home and workplace. After Greene's closed, it became a suit and shirt shop, but that business closed down a few years ago. That's a lot of browsing, a lot of commerce and a lot of history for one building.

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When we spotted the 'shop to rent' sign in the window just a few weeks ago, a rush of excitement swept through us. Wouldn't this be a fabulous plant shop? Most cities that we have visited over the years have city centre  plant shops, selling indoor plants, herbs, some outdoor plants and all the related paraphernalia for gardening and outdoor living. For plant lovers and shopkeepers like us, these are the places we seek out when abroad. This building, with its tall windows and high ceilings would be perfect for plants. To top it off, it was called Greene's, or at least still known as Greene's, bringing all the connotations that go with that word: green for plants, green for our political leanings and green for the 'green' ethos, we believe should go hand in hand with consumerism. The idea of another shop was far from our minds, but this building was calling out to us. Amidst the drudgery and worry caused by the corona virus, as well as the woes of politics and the environment, this seemed like a moment to do something positive. The building needed a tenant and Dublin needed something to open up rather than close down. We hope we aren't alone in believing that the world will once again return to 'normal', and that businesses in Dublin will open up as fast as they closed down. Corona virus and the internet have not helped bricks-and-mortar shops, but real life shops can offer more than the internet in terms of service, knowledge and genuine human contact... this is one reason our website only has a fraction of what we have in the shops.  In the Greene's building on Clare Street, we hope that we can continue the tradition of providing a comforting place to browse, pass the time and maybe find something to bring home. We feel good about selling plants, because they are life-enhancing and connect people to nature. We try very hard to find other products that are well-made, long-lasting and respectful to those who made them and to the environment. We want to stay true, as much as we can, to the inspiration we drew from the name 'Greene'.

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