By Cindy Schaefer
Correspondent July 14, 2014
FUQUAY-VARINA — Step inside the Mad Hatter and you might think you’ve fallen through the looking glass.
The tiny downtown Fuquay-Varina shop – not much wider than an adult shopper’s wingspan – is stocked with racks of fancy women’s hats that any Southern belle would be proud to wear. Opposite the hats are selections of mostly locally made lotions, sprays, sauces and teas.
Bobbie Asad opened Mad Hatter last summer after a year of testing the waters in Clayton. The downtown storefront was ideal for expanding her business.
“Fuquay has been very good to me,” she said. “I grew up here and know a lot of people.”
Asad worked 30 years as an engineer before falling victim to the economy.
“I was laid off and there were no jobs,” she said. “I went to school, and there were still no jobs. I got bored. ... I like hats and tea, so I decided that’s what I’d do.”
Her fascination with hats began with her membership in the Red Hat Society, an international social group for women. She also wears hats to special events.
Although Southern women might not be as quick to don a hat as in years gone by, Asad said there are still those who regularly wear them to church.
Hats are also a hit for bridal parties and teas.
“I think ‘Downton Abbey’ has helped that,” she said of the popular British TV series.
And, of course, they are required attire for the Red Hat Society.
While Asad has a few regulars, including a fashion designer, much of her business comes from one-time customers. She makes sure to have hats in all price ranges to satisfy her customers.
News of the store’s unique wares has begun to spread. A recent out-of-town caller needed something special for an upcoming fundraiser in Washington, D.C. She commissioned a hat that will look like a giant chocolate chip cookie.
Asad turned to her hatmaker, who has been working on a design that will look good enough to eat.
On Saturdays, Asad often hosts tasting events at Mad Hatter. She offers cups of tea and goodies to pair with the sauces she has for sale. Summer days call for selections such as peach iced tea.
Asad has joined the Chamber of Commerce campaign “Spend $20 on the 20th,” which encourages shoppers to support local businesses by offering special deals on the 20th of each month.
She feels right at home in her little corner of Main Street, but she says men, especially, can be intimidated by its coziness.
“Some men handle it well, but some walk in and then slowly back out,” she said.
Mad Hatter Announces 1-Year Anniversary in
Fuquay-Varina has been very good to the shop, and I enjoy meeting each customer that walks in the door. I cannot imagine being anywhere else! Thank you for stopping in and supporting the shop. You make it all worthwhile.”
Asad said individuals wanting to learn more about the new location should call (919) 557-5771.
Mad Hatter is a charming quaint shop located in downtown Fuquay-Varina. If you love whimsical and fun, along with hats and teas, this is a shop you will want to visit. Hats, and lots of them, are available for every budget. Two hat stands provide lots of choices, plus a small stand with fascinators. Each hat and fascinator is different, and the shop does ...not carry two just alike.
If you love tea, iced or hot, you will enjoy the choices available here. Along with sample size loose leaf teas priced at $2.25, Mad Hatter has their own loose leaf teas that are locally made, plus Tea Forte products in loose leaf or teabags. Beautiful teapots and teacups are among the items available.
Another fun product is the locally made hand lotions, sprays and soaps. Scents ranging from their Signature Scent, Chalybeate Honeysuckle, Fuquay Magnolias, Ocean Breeze to Chocolate Covered Strawberry.
Specialty food products are available from locally made barbecue sauce, seasonings, and vinegars to name a few.
This is a small shop, but it has a lot packed into a small space, so take your time browsing or you may miss something.
Mad Hatter is located at 107 South Main Street in Fuquay-Varina, and may be reached by calling (919) 557-5771
Recent Yelp Review: (2/9/2014)
It was the name that attracted my attention, Lewis Carroll fan that I am; but while I didn't fall down a rabbit hole, meet the March hare, the caterpillar, or see a Cheshire cat, I did find some tea, teapots, and scone / biscuit mixes for a tea party. Oh, and then there were the hats. What's a tea party without a hat?
The hats and fascinators were the star of the shop, I think, with several types, some in bright colors, both with and without veils or flowers. There's no possibility of wearing one and not making a statement. I don't go to many places where I'd have a reason to wear a hat like the ones I saw here, but I guess that's not really the point. Wear them for fun.
The good news is if you get a hat, you'll be able to keep your head so you can wear it. The evil Queen of Hearts isn't here. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb by saying the owner's name probably isn't Alice, either, because that would be just too coincidental. However, she was very helpful as I was trying to figure out how some hats stayed in place. A strong wind would have either the hat, or the wearer, flying though the air -- reminiscent of an entirely different story. Moreover, when done wearing the hat, the hatboxes to store it are equally quirky, although I didn't see any that would fit the larger sizes.
Mad Hatter carries a few non-tea party specific items, like body lotions and sprays, and some food seasonings, too. Still, for a one-stop shop for a basic tea party, Mad Hatter is a good choice. It's local, so you'll get personal attention. That's worth the price.
August 15, 2014