There is simply no denying that Bedford High Street is not the shopping destination that it once was. This is not a problem unique to Bedford. Many high streets across Bedfordshire have suffered in the past decade as shopping habits have changed. But of all the high streets across Bedfordshire, Bedford High Street can easily turn the tide of decreasing shoppers. We visited Bedford High Street last week and looked at five things that need to change.
1. A clean street is a happy street
The quote is actually ‘A clean home is a happy home‘ but the sentiment still applies. Granted, our visit was in the middle of a pandemic but nonetheless, this has been a common complaint from locals and shoppers. Bedford’s high street, in general, is pretty clean and the vast majority of local shoppers do their bit. There are a few however who don’t understand that cleanliness is next to godliness; such as the residents living above the entrance to The Arcade.
The Arcade in Bedford is home to some amazing independent stores such as Boutique Planet and Arcadia Sweet Shop. The last thing they need in the current climate is unthoughtful local residents using the window ledge over the entrance as a dump.
2. Cover empty stores
Store closures happen. They happen everywhere from The Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the West End’s Oxford Street. Many high streets have seen closures with the likes of Next and Monsoon closing their doors. Empty shops are not just eyesores; they suck the life out of high streets. Other towns have been very proactive in turning long term empty shops into art galleries, startup hubs, and even libraries.
Bedford has its fair share of empty stores and they need to be utilised. At the very least, the windows should be used to promote positive messaging about Bedford and the local community. Beales in Bedford has been closed for some time after falling into administration. This is prime advertising space that could be proactively put to good use. Marlowes in Hemel Hempstead has utilised this closed retail unit to promote local amenities. It makes a world of difference.
3. Focus on fashion, food, and fun
Post-Covid, Bedford High Street will change forever. Whether it is for good or bad is dependent on the high street’s stakeholders. Many fashion outlets are planning on using smaller stores as collection points. Increasing fulfillment costs and high returns are taking the shine off online shopping. Modern bars, quality street vendors and a focus on child-friendly fun/entertainment should be the top priorities.
4. Close traffic to the High Street
Slightly controversial but the entire high street should be pedestrianised during peak shopping hours. Quality street vendors, places to sit, and safe areas for kids to roam will start to entice shoppers back. As previously mentioned, empty stores can be used to offer unique shopping experiences. With a temporary car-free zone, our suggestion of a focus on fashion, food, and fun could be a reality.
5. Diverse family restaurants
Bedford has a diverse community that should be represented on the high street. Opening on Saturday 1st August, CaRumBar will offer authentic Jamaican cuisine in a family-friendly setting. Independent restaurants offering a different dining experience will help shape the outlook for Bedford’s high street.
What would you like to see change? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Milton Keynes activewear brand Gymcub Apparel opens Christmas pop-up
GymCub Apparel, the Milton Keynes born activewear and leisure brand is set to open a pop-up store at Midsummer Place, Milton Keynes following a successful launch online earlier this year. Opening at 10am on Wednesday 1st December, the brand – which has a growing fanbase in the local area – will welcome guests throughout the festive period and into the New Year, for a limited time only.
Marking the opening of its first ever physical store, the brand – known for its bold and daring designs – will sell its best-selling items including its co-ord signature tracksuits and hoodies, as well as its much-loved t-shirts, vests, leggings, and cropped tops. It will also launch a brand-new limited-edition line which will be exclusively available in store only.
Located opposite Victoria’s Secret, the stylish activewear brand which has been spotted on a host of reality TV stars including Love Island’s Connor Durman, Emma Woodhams and TOWIE’s Roman Hackett will finally be available to purchase in store for the first time ever and will celebrate by sharing an exclusive 50% discount to first time customers on Friday 3rd December.
Richard Cayless, Owner of GymCub Apparel commented “GymCub Apparel was born here in Milton Keynes, so it only felt right to open our first ever pop-up in the city. We’ve had a successful launch period, growing our community online and this marks the next step in building that fanbase further. Our ethos is all about looking great and feeling great and that will be reflected in our instore experience”
He continued “We know Christmas is always a busy period, with lots of people on the lookout for the perfect gift and we cannot wait to bring our bold and daring designs to Milton Keynes. We cannot wait to welcome everyone when doors open at 10am on Wednesday.”
TipTop Outlet opens brand new store at The Mall Luton
The Mall Luton has today welcomed new store TipTop Outlet to the centre, with the retailer opening its doors to eager customers looking for premium brands at affordable prices.
The store, which covers two floors, is home to an iconic line-up of brands including Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Timberland. More affordable ranges can be found on the first floor, which is accessible via staircase or lift.
Shoppers will be able to browse a huge range of shoes, clothes, and accessories, with a fantastic mix of sought-after, limited-edition lines not readily available in other stores, and great value bargains. Items such as the Nike Jordan Limited Edition trainers that usually are not available within stores in the UK will be one of the first of a selection of unique offers at the store.
Manager of TipTop Outlet, Mutaz Alhejoj, said, “We are excited to unveil the store after working hard to get it ready over the past couple of months. Tiptop is a great place to find your next pair of favourite trainers but also to browse through our collections of branded clothes and accessories. Exclusively for the opening, we have secured many pairs of the Nike Jordan Limited Edition released in 2021. We look forward to welcoming shoppers to our store!”
The opening of TipTop comes in the same week as the newly extended Primark store fully opens at The Mall, bringing an even bigger and better range of fashion and homeware to the centre. The 10,000sqft extension into an adjacent unit sees the retail giant increasing its presence in Luton and offering a wider choice of products to shoppers.
Roy Greening, General Manager, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Tiptop Outlet to The Mall. Their unique and exciting offer is a fantastic addition to our already impressive line-up here at the centre.
Roy continued, “With the opening of the extended Primark store this week, and the opening of TipTop, all just in time for the festive season, we hope shoppers will love discovering the new lines and brands now available here”.
TipTop can be found opposite H&M in The Mall. Shoppers can access the bigger and improved Primark store through an enlarged entrance within the Mall as well as via George Street.
TipTop Outlet Luton Address
The Mall Luton
Barking Bags wins the Best New Business at the Pet Awards
A pet accessory business based near Milton Keynes has recently won the Best New Business at the Pet Industry Federation (PIF) Awards. Barking Bags is the brainchild of Debbie Greaves and her partner Rob Angell, who were inspired by the need to find a bag that would carry all the paraphernalia that they needed when they were training and out on a walk with their dog, Maisie.
The PIF Awards celebrate success across a wide range of products, services, companies and individuals and provide the perfect platform to recognise excellence and innovation in the industry. The awards were recently handed out at a black tie event at Whittlebury Hall Hotel, Northamptonshire and were attended by the major companies and experts in the pet industry.
Barking Bags are fast becoming an essential companion for dog walkers. Their fashionable and multifunctional design allows the wearer the flexibility to use them cross body or as a bum bag, helping dog walkers to carry everything they need without compromising on style. They are weatherproof and suitable for any climate or environment.
Barking Bags truly come into their own particularly during the winter months as Debbie explains,
“Regular exercise is vitally important in the winter months and it is important to make the walk pleasant for you and your dog. Always carry bags for cleaning up and disposing of doggie poop—leaving dog waste is not only a health hazard, but also it is against the law. Try to hydrate by carrying water for yourself and your dog, especially in warmer weather, and be sure to pack your dog’s favourite bite-size treats for rewarding good behaviour away from home.
“We have a range of high quality, water resistant, unisex fabrics and also high end luxury leather bags to choose from, but in response to customer demand, we also produce a vegan friendly range as well. These allow you to carry all the essentials you need.”
Inspired by young British designers, Barking Bags make walking the dog easier, safer and more convenient. Their ingenious designs have mesh pockets for water bottles and soggy toys, a poo bag dispenser, a safe place for keys and mobile and much more. Some models have reflective strips for added safety when walking in the dark and Barking Bags sell police approved panic alarms that can be clipped onto the bags. Barking Bags come with breathable side pockets with the option of a draw string side pocket – large enough to carry the dog waste once it is bagged up which means no more walking around carrying the unmentionable stuff.
The bags are great for professional dog walkers, breeders, show dog owners, groomers and ordinary dog owners. You can fit all your bits and pieces in the compartments and they make the perfect accessory or gift for any dog owner. There are also a range of additional accessories that can be purchased in the Barking Bag range that include water bottles, collapsible dog bowls, alarms, towels to dry the dog’s paws on and belts to hook your bags onto so you can keep you hands free to control your dog. The bags have 100% 5 star reviews on Google
Barking Bags were also nominated in two other categories at the Pet Industry Federation Awards (PIF) and were finalists in three categories at the Pet Quip awards. There are plans afoot to increase production of the range due to demand and to introduce new range of smaller bum bags. The bags are currently made by artisans in India and are packaged in the UK at MK SNAP – a local charity working with adults with learning difficulties.