Hello from Sara...
I suspect that there have been several milliners on Burford High Street down the centuries but perhaps not a shop that sells both hats and books. I opened the Madhatter Bookshop in October 2011 and if I’m honest, I opened it with a large dose of bravado and little actual experience. My great grandmother was a milliner in Manchester in the 1900s, a photograph of her hangs in the shop and I was often conscious of her rather disapproving stare. When I opened, the kindle was at its most popular, many forecast the demise of hard books and the Oxford Times called me mad.
Despite this rather wobbly start, I was immediately overwhelmed by the support of Burfordians of all ages. I met many wonderful people and I was astounded by the community spirit that took me and my family under its wing. Burford really is an astonishing place. The work and effort that goes into the Burford Festival, the parish council, the monthly magazine and the creativity of onform sculpture show at Asthall simply takes my breath away. I feel very fortunate to have been part of all of that and I hope I can continue to support this unique community going forward.
Undoubtedly, the success of any bookshop depends on its customer service and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the fabulous team at the Madhatters. Thank you to Liz Savage whose organisational skills saved my bacon on many occasions and to Caroline for her enthusiasm, drive and commitment to the bookshop. Huge thanks to Anna, my longest serving team member, and more latterly Chrissie who stepped in to save Christmas.
However, I must give a special vote of thanks to Kim Harvey who has taken on the Madhatters from the 1st April. Kim has been with the Madhatters for the last 5 years and I know she will do a fantastic job as she quite literally oozes commitment to the future of the shop. She brings with her a wealth of experience and she is already planning some very exciting new ventures and events. Watch out for her window displays and social media….
I am very happy that the Madhatters is set to thrive in the future and I’m sending lots of best wishes and thanks from me and all my children (most of whom you’ve met at some point behind the counter). We’ve had the best time at the Madhatters.