70 years of ‘just one more page’. Our very favourite book store is celebrating their birthday this month. And what a story this brand has to tell.
Exclusive Books opened in Joburg in 1951 … the only shop of the time to sell exclusively books. The Hillbrow shop was hugely popular for bookworms … and while most stores at that time closed at 5 o’clock sharp, Exclusive Books stayed open late into the evening and opened on – gasp – weekends and public holidays, too.
There are such lovely tales to be told. In 1983 Duran Duran bassist John Taylor wondered in, hungover and with red-rimmed eyes, at 9.30 on a Sunday morning buying a pile of Penguin Classics. Ten years later, Whoopi Goldburg was a frequent visitor while filming Sarafina. One day, after being in the store for a while, one of the EB staff quietly sidle up to her, saying ‘Ma’am, I thought you should know that the man over there has been suspiciously watching you for quite some time.’ Whoppi looked over at the chap, and replied ‘I should hope so, he’s my bodyguard!’
Another starstruck moment was in 1995, when David Bowie popped into the store, stunning employees with a presence that’s even more magnetic in person. Loyal customers will know the matriarchs of the EB brand. Fleur MacFarlane, Penny Hochfeld, Esther Richards, Marie Canin and of course the inimitable Jill van Zyl. An expert in customer relations, her English charm didn’t exclude her from wanting to say ‘Sorry I can’t help you, F off.’ at least once in her life. True to said charm, she never did. And … our favourite … in 2018 EB granted a grandmother’s birthday wish – to be locked inside an Exclusive Books store for the night. A bedroom, complete with everything one would need to enjoy a night reading and browsing was created in the Hyde Park store and gran’s wish came true. How fabulous is that!
For more lovely snippets, make sure you look out for the oversized commemorative posters that will be instore. With the opening of in-store cafes, the excellent EB Rewards programme, a tie in the Uber Eats and so, so much more, we’re saying Happy Happy … and here’s to so many more birthdays, stories, and exceptional reads.