Owner of No Alibis bookshop says it’s business as usual despite premises going up for sale

The owner of Belfast’s most famous bookshop has said it’s business as usual for now after its landlord put the building up for sale.

o Alibis’ Botanic Avenue home of nearly 25 years is now on the market for offers of more than £285,000.

David Torrans, the owner of the bookshop, said he will remain there until at least November 2023, when his five-year lease is due to expire. The present owner of the building is a private individual.  

It had been a house before Mr Torrans converted it into a commercial property when he opened the bookshop 25 years ago in June, starting out as a specialist in crime fiction.

The venue has hosted book launches and low-key concerts, with No Alibis also branching out into publishing.

Mr Torrans said he had not yet decided what to do when his lease runs out. 

“Some things are inside your control, some things are outside it. So we’ll have to see what happens,” he said.  

“But the important thing is that we have been supported by communities for all these years and that’s what we rely upon.

“Whether we stay here or not, or whether we have to move, the support has been positive all along and we hope that will continue.

“We will have been here 25 years in June this year, so we have had a good relationship with our landlord, who has been as good as any landlord can be, on many levels. The balance of the relationship has always been positive.”

He said he was ambivalent about whether or not he would relocate the business. 

“I don’t want to break something that isn’t broken. The opportunity to move to another area may be a positive. But, by the same token, we haven’t looked at the moment, but maybe that could change.

“We’re here until November 2023 at least — that’s when our leasing arrangement is up. We just have to see. Although the one constant in all of this is that we have been supported by book lovers near and far for all those 25 years. This won’t change that.”

He said he hadn’t yet looked into buying the building himself but added: “If a new adventure appears in a new part of the city, we would be a fool not to look at it.”

A brochure from commercial property practice Campbell Cairns, which is selling the premises, says: “This mid-terraced property offers a ground-floor retail unit that is currently let to No Alibis bookshop.

“Upstairs provides first and second floors that are currently vacant but could be used for either office accommodation or residential subject to planning.”

Campbell Cairns has been contacted for further comment. 

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