What made Margaret Dunstan start a vintage bookshop in Sydney?

Today, we bring you a quick rapid-fire round with the very charming Margaret Dunstan, who started a bookstore specialising in rare and collectible books, fondly called- Love Vintage Books. 

Based in the early 1990s under the trading name- Somerset House Books, Margaret has had shop fronts in Kurrajong Village, Blackheath, and for a short while in Sydney’s York Street. Currently, you can visit her spellbinding bookstore in Willoughby on Sydney’s North Shore.

How did the idea to start the bookstore- Love Vintage Books occur to you?

Margaret- I always loved books and reading. I thought how wonderful it would be to have my own shop and so I opened one.

What were the initial struggles?

Margaret- Getting known and obtaining the right stock.

Has owning a bookstore changed your relationship with books? 

Margaret- Not at all. I still read a tremendous amount; perhaps I am reading more fiction than I used to. 

How did you manage the lockdown? 

Margaret- The shop was closed in lockdown. We had a few online orders, and occasionally orders were left outside the door for customers to collect.

Can you describe a typical day in your life? 

Margaret- Open shop, check shelves and tidy them. Then check emails, respond, think, plan marketing, pay bills and enter new stock into the database.

How would you do it differently if you had to open the Love Vintage Books store today? 

Margaret- I would look for slightly bigger premises with more parking available for customers.

What would you say makes your bookstore unique and different from others? 

Margaret- It’s the combination of rare and collectible stock laid out to look like the library in an old English country house/bookshop.

What else would you have been doing if Love Vintage Books wasn’t in the picture? 

Margaret- Probably minding my grandchildren.

What has been your biggest takeaway from owning a bookstore? 

Margaret- Learning new things from erudite, thoughtful, and intelligent customers.

Two words to describe your success mantra. 

Margaret- Perseverance and research.

What do you enjoy the most about being a bookseller? 

Margaret- Matching customers to the titles they have been looking for.

What is the hardest part about being a bookseller?

Margaret- Saying no to those offering books for sale.

Do you have any advice for those looking to open a bookstore?

Margaret- Do it for love as there is no money in it.