At the new address, teams brought the trays in. But there were not nearly enough books to fill the much larger space. A British customer, Lindsay Shackleton, agreed to rent half the basement for a Tearoom. She baked fresh scones daily and brewed proper English tea. The other 100m in the basement were for fiction and science fiction, the first floor was non-fiction, while magazines, new titles, travel, art and sports were on the ground floor. Later we opened the second floor for non-fiction. The third floor was our warehouse, the fourth f floor our bicycle park and the fifth floor served as our offices and canteen.
At first, the fourth floor was empty. Artist friends whitewashed the walls and hung rails, birthing the Fourth Floor Gallery exhibition space. This was a free DIY space for exhibitions and book events with shared publicity. Later, when Venus Evenings took place weekly, all the bicycles had to be moved down a flight and chairs were set up to accommodate the audience. That got tiresome. So, when our old warehouse on the Voetboogstraat came up for rent again, we started a sort of clubhouse there, the ABC Treehouse, where we could host all kinds of events and art exhibitions.
*At the end of the day, Avo asked Giorgio how long he’d had his driving license; he drove so well. “I don’t have one,” was his answer. We kid him about it to this day – he’s still at ABC 37 years later, driving books between the stores two days every week. And how did he get the job to guard the store from 7-11pm every night? Easy – his friend had the job but wanted to leave, and Giorgio was the same size – he literally fit the uniform. No job interview was necessary.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Giorgio, I’m the guard now.”
“Okay, welcome! Bring me your papers.”
After being an excellent guard at Kalverstraat 158, with an antenna for pilfering visitors as well as an ear for five or six languages, Giorgio became a cashier in the new location, then a buyer for the sports and magazine sections. Since we moved to the Spui in 2005, he’s been the magazine buyer, the driver between our stores and the fixer. Anything broken? He’ll fix it, he says, “the African way.” Which usually works just fine.