A CHRISTIAN bookshop forced to close after the charity that ran it went into administration has now been back in business for almost a month and is already showing signs of recovery.

Living Oasis, formerly Wesley Owen Books and Music, has been open for business in South Woodford High Road since March 6 after it was taken over by Ongar-based charity Nationwide Christian Trust.

Following its closure at the end of last year, the shop is in the process of getting back on its feet, although it has had some “teething problems”, manager Dominic Stinchcombe said.

He added: “It’s interesting getting everything started from scratch. It’s been very difficult to get used to.

“The expectation of just walking in and chucking stock on the shelves is not realistic.”

However, Mr Stinchcombe said plenty of customers have been coming to the shop to show their support.

“We’ve been trading at a much better rate than I feared we would be,” he said.

“People drift away and it’s difficult to re-establish but I’ve been heartened by the number of customers coming through.”

A total of four paid staff work at the shop, with three taking back their old jobs, one choosing to change career and one volunteer being taken on in a paid role.

The shop was also at the centre of a hard-fought campaign to keep it open, with people donating a total of about £40,000 to support it.

Cash pledges made by members of the public, churchgoers and customers were handed over to Nationwide Christian Trust and are currently being used to help the shop return to business as usual.

Mr Stinchcombe added: “What’s really lovely is the way everybody’s pulling together.

“We’ve had a huge amount of co-operation from publishers and distributors – they’ve been so pleased to see us reopening and they want to help us get going.”

Plans are also in place to turn the shop into a community meeting facility, including a children’s area and café – but the shop will need to find a new home in South Woodford first.

“We need to move to bigger premises to cope with the facilities,” Mr Stinchcombe said.

A new site is currently being sought and the shop is expected to move in the next six to nine months.