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The Bookcafe- "Chapter three" "Wonderland"

Updated: Dec 20, 2023




In our previous employment we had noticed that tourist cities & those with a sizeable university provided solid all-round trade. Our plan was to create our own national chain, we just needed a good start.

For years the Americans had visited York in their droves for it's cobbled alleys & wonky buildings & now that Mel Gibson had portrayed William Wallace "sacking" York" it had been busier than ever. We were going to be raking it in....surely?


As the song says..."we packed up our troubles in our old kit bag" or in this case what was left of our fixtures, fittings & stock, secured a £50k overdraft, grabbed the parents & headed off to shake up York high street.


Our lease started early October 2001, just after the September 11th attacks. What with Anthrax scares, the infamous "shoe bomber" the vast amount of Americans, understandably, just stopped flying.

We were not deterred, the deal was done, the money borrowed & we had enough experience & ambition to make it work.......possibly.



We hired a small team from a local branch of "Barratt shoes". The company were going into administration. Amazing how quickly we forget brands as "progress" marches on.

After 6 weeks of non stop hard graft from mainly ourselves, my dad (the builder) & my mum, the professional shopper, we opened the doors.


It's fair to say it was not like a Boxing day stampede at Primark, I'm sure I heard someone go by and say "not another bookshop" & I even saw someone wipe dog excrement off their shoe onto our expensive & what turned out to be highly dangerous when wet, mosaic tiles on the entrance steps.


Still, we were in the game, and we were turning over reasonable sales. We carried on to Christmas Eve busy merchandising & selling, the night was drawing in, the snow was gently falling over the medieval streets & we closed the shop for Christmas day. Exhausted, on the way home we popped into the "Red Lion" for some Christmas cheer.


After possibly more than a few shandy's we started to do some maths and that's when it hit us. We were in financial trouble already. The numbers didn't add up. We had been busy fools & we felt sick to the stomach. To Be Continued..........



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