Manager of The Co-op Bookshop at UQ campus Ipswich Colleen Freestone at the shop.
Manager of The Co-op Bookshop at UQ campus Ipswich Colleen Freestone at the shop. Sarah Harvey

Shop has surprises in store

IN MOST homes across the city there will be, to varying degrees of size, quantity and type, shelves of books.

We read them to children and they become part of our lives.

It is still a multi-million dollar business that is embracing the digital demands. Schools and public libraries promote them and people still love to get their hands on a book. One organisation that has been in the business for several decades is The Co-op Bookshop and it is possibly one of this city's best-kept secrets.

Ipswich residents have easy access to their local Co-op Bookshop but may not even be aware that it exists.

Based on the University of Queensland, Ipswich Campus grounds, it is easy to access and the range and other products need to be seen to be believed.

"We have 40 branches across Australia and have been here since 2009," manager of the Ipswich store Colleen Freestone said.

The Co-op Bookshop has more than 1.6 million members and is recognised as Australia's largest member-owned retailer.

The idea behind a co-op is to "meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise", according to the Co-op Bookshop.

Ms Freestone added: "It started out in 1958 at the Sydney University and is now in most states of Australia.

"It began to help students get books at a good price but now has grown that anyone can be a member.

"It is $20 dollars for a one-off life membership and I know that you can get that money back after the first few purchases."

The Co-op Bookshop is established as a not-for-profit organisation and the profits are returned to the members through discounts and other services. Members can be nominated to be elected onto the board.

Walk inside the bookshop, located on the ground floor of building 12, at UQ Ipswich, close to car parks and public transport, and you will be amazed at the range of fiction and non-fiction books, latest titles and a big range. Novels, cookbooks and gardening are big sellers and one of the most popular, right now, is Jamie Oliver's 15-Minute Meals.

"We have much more than just books. Anything from go cards and phone cards to headphones and iPad covers are available. Members are guaranteed a discount from seven per cent up to 30 to 40%."

It stocks games, beach towels, rubiik's cubes, toys for children, body jewellery and stationery items.

"If I do not have the book you want in stock, I can order it in," Ms Freestone said.

Beside all these items, there is a wonderful range of Burt's Bees, which is a range of natural products, such as hand creams, along with Perfect Potions, another range of natural products.

"We even have ukuleles and harmonicas."

A good range of Christmas gift ideas is also in-store.

The Co-op Bookshop carries a huge range of physical books but also have e-books available through its website. MsFreestone is passionate about books and has had a long association with the Co-op.

"I really love the member benefits and we currently have a good customer base of students and staff but I want to see more people from the community to come in and know this as their bookshop too," she said.

"If people want to order a book, just come in or phone me and I can organise it."

It is open from 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday and can be contacted by phone on 3381 1240, and check them out online at coop-bookshop.com.au.



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