November 28, 2020


When you think of a second hand bookshop, a coffee shop or a charity shop, innovation isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. More often an eclectic collection of dusty used books combined with a charity shop usually mean very hard working, well meaning staff in their second career, offering their expertise working assorted hours pro-bono, and usually in a very tired re-purposed tatty shop. Collections of well thumbed books, random order and very little consistency in pricing. At best not a welcoming environment or one you would choose to spend much time unless you were on a specific mission to track down a very individual book – but probably not on your top ten list of places to visit for a fun time! None of the above fits with the world of innovations or creativity.

All my preconceptions and bias came to a crash yesterday afternoon when we visited a cool coffee shop located in a little Oxfordshire village. ‘The Wee Book Shop & Cafe’ in Chinnor. We had no idea what it was except that perhaps it had something to do with books and perhaps coffee.

A vibrantly bright place, immaculately fitted out, warm and friendly staff, the most amazing choice of cakes and a selection of coffee that only the most the most experienced Barista would get his or her head around. We made our selection and found somewhere to sit in this coffee heaven. Tables, chairs, sofa and an area for the toddlers to romp. Something for everybody.

Curiously I gazed around trying to piece together this puzzle. Everything so immaculate, so well planned, the walls were floor to ceiling with neat rows of interesting, and what appeared to be,brand new books. Our trip took an even more interesting turn for the better as we noticed an over-sized model electric train running around on a suspended track at ceiling level around the perimeter of the room.https://www.youtube.com/embed/IXFXJnVWK30

By this time, my curiosity was getting the better of me, books to read and books to buy, really great coffee, fun things to look at, and an environment that caters for all ages. I was starting to thinkabout what sort of person could create this amazing space.

Who ever created this genius needs to be celebrated as they have created the ultimate charity bookshop and coffee shop.

Really good coffee, great cake and a selection of food. Brilliant selection of quality books at what appears to be a flat price of a pound each. So now, not only do we have a new coffee spot to visit, we also have a place to take our ever increasing and mounting pile of pre-loved books to be reused for the greater good.

My deduction was that their mission was to create an engaging revenue generator for the Bladder Cancer Charity. There are ‘play on words’ wherever you look. I soon realised that the name, the Wee Book Shop wasn’t referring to it being the smallest bookshop!

Pure Genius. An interesting and engaging space that obviously has very successfully achieved what it set out to do.

With retail facing such challenges, has anybody else seen a creative and really great use for old retail space? Interestingly, the ‘Wee Book Shop & Cafe’ occupies what was once was the local Bank (if anybody actually remembers what High Street Banks were.)

I look forward to my next visit and would love to chat with the creative mind behind this reality.