Small businesses – beware of telephone and email scams.

Life in the retail sector for small businesses is hard, and it’s been getting even more perilous lately with a rise in phone and email scams. These type of frauds obviously target the population at large, but there do seem to be a rise in the targeting of small businesses.
I cover this for attendees of my Airbnb experience “run a London bookshop for a day”, but am putting a post here as the more people who are aware, the better.

One scam which recently caught out a local business here in Kilburn, took advantage of the climate of a flood of  “pre-approved” loan messages that banks and lenders seem to send out willy-nilly. A struggling shop-owner was “offered” a pre-approved loan at a very low interest rate. Given this could have meant saving the business, the owner jumped at the chance. However the snag was, the “lender” insisted on a small insurance charge up-front, since they had to cover those people who would default on repayments.
Of course after making that up-front insurance payment, the lender disappeared, and the loan never materialised. The scammers prey on desperate people, so if you think something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Another method the scammers use is to pretend their email or text comes from an official source – this is known as phishing. Just this week I received a text message with govuk in the header. The message stated “You are due to receive a refund from your council…” A lie of course, and best not to engage in any way with the text or email.
As per Action Fraud “Local councils never cold call, text or email residents in this way requesting bank details.”
Also, if this comes via a phone call “If you receive one of these calls, do not give out any personal information and end the call as quickly as possible. The fraudsters can get aggressive and ring back if you put the phone down, but this is all part of the scam to make you act as they want.”

This is one reason why I have no patience with all the cold callers offering me “better” deals on utilities, internet charges etc. I have no idea if they are genuine or one of the scamsters, and I’m not willing to take the chance. If you want to offer a better service, send me details by post. I’m not discussing it with a cold caller on an anonymous phone.

Run a London bookshop via Airbnb Experiences.

I recently registered on the Airbnb website, an option for people to run a London bookshop ie Offside Books.
The idea is that we give the applicant some training in how we run the shop, and advice on what it would take if you want to open your own venture. Of course much of the buying/selling information is specific to bookselling, but some of the information is useful for anyone thinking of running a shop. It’s also a great way to experience the daily routine of a London bookshop and meet the varied mixture of regular and new customers in Kilburn who visit the shop.

James outside Offside Books

Our first booking was a charming gentleman from Essex called James, who loved the idea (as he’s a regular visitor to London bookstores). James didn’t just take part in the experience, he also took the opportunity to select a good haul of books (at a discount) and promised he’d be back at a later date when he next ventured book-buying into London. Which was a great result for us as it meant we’d gained a new customer!
Just one week later we were surprised to get a booking from a Chinese family, who were in London to celebrate their Spring Festival/Chinese New Year. I’m hoping that they found this as fantastic an experience as we did. Both Fatma (my wife) and myself found it a great privilege to meet a family from China, and talk about the different libraries/bookshops in our two countries.

Our special guests from China, the Li family.

At one point the father of the Li family wanted to buy some clothing gifts to take home, and I was able to show him the Kilburn High road offerings – not always trumpeted, but there are very good discount stores such as TK Maxx, where Mr Li was able to purchase some good value gifts to take back with him.
So, it’s early days yet in hosting these experiences, but so far we’ve been very privileged to receive such nice guests. And if we can bring a little bit of extra custom to our corner of NW London so much the better. There are a lot of plus points to the Kilburn area, and I hope to write a blog post shortly about some of them, possibly under the title “little-known secrets of Kilburn”.

Storytelling for Adults in Spanish – cuentacuentos para adultos

An exciting venture is coming to Offside Books, 92 Willesden Lane, Kilburn, on Thursday 15th March at 7pm. Entrance £6.50  UPDATE: The last meetup of 2018  will be on Thursday 13 December at 7pm.

Storytelling for Adults in Spanish.

Listening to stories can be magical, exciting and Inspirational – now you can immerse yourself in Spanish at the same time.

These events are best appreciated by intermediate to advanced Spanish speakers. As well as listening to a native Spanish speaker, you will get the chance to join in the discussion later in the evening. In short an entertaining and educational evening in a NW London venue!

To start off our storytelling in Spanish adventure, we are privileged to have the services of a teacher and writer Jose Maestre based in London. To get everyone in the mood we will provide an introductory drink of juice or wine, plus nibbles. Our initial session will be on Thursday 15th March. We will then meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month.

Poetry of Many Worlds 2018

EVEN FURTHER UPDATE: As a result of demand, we will continue to host a poetry group on the first Wednesday of each month, starting Wednesday 7th March at 7pm.

 

UPDATE The Poetry of many Worlds group is no longer meeting at Offside Books.

If you need to contact the organiser Brian Lee please contact us directly and we’ll pass on a message.

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A place to read your own poetry, to share poems that you love, or just to come and listen.
This event takes place the first Wednesday of every month, 7pm to 9pm, starting 7th February.
The facilitator is Brian Lee, and admission is £3 (includes refreshments). Below a few words of description from Brian himself:

Poetry of Many Worlds

Not just many cultures, and Kilburn has plenty of those! But life 
experiences as well. Each person, each generation, whether local or 
incomer carries a world within them. Memories of childhood, challenges, 
journeys, visions. Each one of us has our own unique way of looking at 
the world and expressing that in words. That’s what we’re about.

Poetry of Many Worlds

We are in our second year now, listening to each others’ writings, 
empowering each other to be in words, in a poem maybe what we cannot be 
in everyday life. To find that hardness, that looseness, that dance of 
language that we call poetry.

Poetry of Many Worlds

A space to read or to listen. The first Wednesday of the month at 
Offside Books.

Come along and join in a friendly local crowd whose passion is for poetry.
Offside Books, 92 Willesden Lane, NW6 7TA

Film screening and poetry Monday 22 Jan 2018

UPDATE: Please confirm before attending as we’ve had a big response to this event.

We are privileged to announce that this coming Monday 22nd, at OffSideBooks, 92 Willesden Lane, we host a-poetry and film screening on the #Wormwood project, a collaborative work by Steven J Fowler and Tereza Stehlikova.
Come and join us! The event starts 7pm and is planned to be followed by an informal discussion, wine and nibbles!

Sale of books

We would like to inform those in NW London who are looking to sell their book collections, that we are currently buying non-fiction books in the genres: Art, History, Philosopy and Psycho-Analysis.

If your books are clean and in good condition (sorry, we can’t pay for Readers’ Digest books or encyclopaedias), bring a box or two down to our Kilburn bookshop for us to examine (note that we currently close on Mondays).

For those for whom it’s not convenient to sell books to us, note that you can sell books online with We buy books     Please note that we aim to offer a higher price when we buy books in person.

Many thanks in advance.

Wine Tasting Evening Wednesday 8 November

UPDATE: We are sorry to announce the event has been postponed, as the organisers are unable to attend.

We will update you if a suitable later date is arranged.

 

We are privileged to have Dany Teixeira from the Winemakers’ Club, organise a “Walk Around Wine Tasting” event on Wednesday 8th November. Entrance is £15.
As well as the opportunity to sample the different wines, snacks will be provided.
The event starts at 7pm, and we hope to see you then!