THERE was a festive atmosphere at a fun-filled Easter event in Ringwood at the weekend as a new bookshop was launched.

Hundreds of people flocked to the Furlong Shopping Centre to celebrate the opening of a new Waterstones on Saturday – the first that the chain has opened for six years – with live music, refreshments and activities on offer for children.

The store gained national media attention at the weekend, as it heralds the start of the retailer’s plans to open new store that are hoped to become social hubs and it is being seen as a signal that sales of e-books are slowing.

The shopping centre’s marketing manager, Charlie Reed, said she was delighted with the turnout and that the atmosphere had been fantastic.

“We hear a lot in the news about the death of the high street, so it is wonderful to see a new big shop like this open up here,” she added.

“There was a really feel-good vibe and we are hoping it will encourage more people to come and visit us in the future.”

The new 3,215 square foot store officially opened on Friday, with children given the opportunity to have their picture taken with picture book favourite Kipper.

“The kids absolutely loved it,” added Charlie.

“We also had a chick petting area, craft workshops from Tulip Crafts, cake stalls from Waldorf School and face-painting too.”

A highlight was live music from prominent local musician Carys Carter, who played guitar and sang a string of songs to the crowd. Waldorf School students kept shoppers entertained with a class in playing the harp.

The new Waterstones store has a light oak bookcase and slat wall design, as well as boasting a new Café W with triple certified coffee from Matthew Algie – approved by the Fairtrade Foundation. The bookshop will also sell stationery and offer free wi-fi.