This small independent book store in England isn’t just surviving – it is thriving thanks to the city that adores its literary services.

October Books of Southampton had been struggling to afford the rising rent prices of the building that they had occupied since 1977. The owners created a crowdfunding page for $400,000 in hopes of buying out an old bank building down the block.

Hundreds of devoted customers and regular visitors offered donations and loans to help meet the crowdfunding goal.

Then on Sunday, the shop ran into another financial issue – how would they be able to move their stock to the new location without having to pay for expensive moving services?

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October Books put out a call for volunteers to form a “human conveyor belt” between their old store and the new location 500 feet down the street.

They expected maybe a few dozen people to show up – but to their surprise, over 200 people – young and old – lined up on the sidewalk to pass each of the store’s 2,000 books to their new home.

Amy Brown, one of the store’s employees, told NPR that she was stunned to see the resulting turnout.

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“I was handing books to people without actually seeing the entire of it,” said Brown. “So it was only after about 20 minutes I actually go out into the road and saw the extent of the people.”

When passing pedestrians asked what people were doing, they would jump in to help. Nearby restaurants even brought hot teas and coffees for the volunteers.

“It was really sort of surprising and positive, and just a really moving experience to see people chipping in because they wanted to help. And they wanted to be part of something bigger,” Brown told NPR.

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  1. If it takes one second on average for each book to pass from one person to another, then the entire collection of 2000 books would take 33 minutes and 20 seconds (that’s 2000 seconds) to pass thru one person’s hands. Add 200 more seconds for the start of the operation (that is, sending the first book down the line of 200 people), and the whole store could be moved by this human conveyor belt in 36 minutes, 40 seconds… give or take a few pauses for coffee and donuts. Right?

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