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Children’s book shop marks two-year role in community
AN independent publisher that brought a disused building in Summertown back to life is celebrating two years of trading in Oxford.
This Thursday will be the second anniversary of Barefoot Books, and its staff and customers are in celebratory mood.
Before the US-based children’s publisher opened the book shop, 294 Banbury Road was just an empty shell.
Now it is a thriving bookshop, community arts centre and café that has told 24,000 stories, helped 5,000 children unleash their inner artists at 750 art and craft sessions, wrapped more than 4,000 presents and hosted 150 birthday parties.
It has also raised more than £5,000 for charity.
In its first two years, the shop sold 36,000 children’s books and gifts, created 35 jobs and won Junior magazine’s award for the best family café two years in a row.
Co-founder and editor-in-chief Tessa Strickland said: “It has been incredibly rewarding for the whole team to watch the business take off with such gusto.
“I’ve seen families queuing up to get into the store and we even have people travelling from London for some of our weekend events.
“We are living, breathing proof that by adding creativity and imagination into the mix, the independent sector can thrive on the high street.”
Regular customer Sam Blake, from South Oxford, said: “I often come to Barefoot with my younger children aged eight and three.
“The children have attended a range of the classes offered including dance and yoga and I have come to some of the adult workshops too.
“We love the story and craft times, the relaxed and child friendly atmosphere of the café but most of all we enjoy the books.”
Sales manager Debbie Clayden said: “It’s great to welcome not just families here but also our retail customers and library and schools suppliers, and see them catch hold of our vision and discover how they can use our books in similar ways in their own settings. It’s a very family friendly place to be so there isn’t a huge divide between work and home life.”
Community relations manager and city centre resident Izzie Martin added: “Inside, surrounded by books, I find that every story time I perform, all music that I play, every craft I create, and every exciting, immersive class that I organise, all blend together with Oxford’s community.
“I particularly enjoy running Barefoot birthday parties for this reason, as craft, music, story and food are all rolled into one great celebration which both children and parents adore.”
Team member Jaz Martell, from South Oxford, added: “I’ve worked in the studio since it opened two years ago, and it has given me a fantastic opportunity to grow and learn.”
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