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St Albans gives new meaning to ‘window shopping’ with new app

Lee Hall

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St Albans gives new meaning to ‘window shopping’ with new app

Independent shops, restaurants, bars, hairdressers, and salons in the cathedral city of St Albans have become the first retailers in the UK to trial a revolutionary new technology. The purpose of the new app is to help both shops and shoppers in the current challenging climate. The technology is designed to help nervous customers feel safer when they are shopping and to give retailers with small shop spaces the capacity to accommodate more shoppers. 

Contactless Window Shopping is the brainchild of marketing consultant Jez Dutton from design consultancy That Happy Place. It involves placing tags in shop windows that shoppers can scan using their smartphones, taking them directly to the shop’s website where they can directly browse and buy from the shop’s range of products. 

This means customers can be inspired by the shop window but buy without even going into the shop if the shop is at capacity or they feel nervous. Orders are then delivered to the customer’s house. 

Restaurant and bar owners, along with hairdressers and beauty salons are also trialling this revolutionary technology, giving their customers the opportunity to directly book appointments through the tag in their premise’s window. 

Some 13 shops in St Albans have signed up so far including Gymboree, Headcase Barbers, Hers N Sirs, Eve & Adam, The Rug Maker, Cositas, The Dressing Room, Jago Jewellers, Refill Pantry, St Albans Museum & Gallery, and Kingshill Jewellers. 

The Dressing Room St Albans

The Dressing Room, one of 13 shops trialling the new shopping technology.

Talking about designing the new technology, Dutton said: “Right now, many independent high-street shops have been badly hit: they are either temporarily closed or they have to accommodate queuing outside, and both are terrible for business. However, they did have their shop windows and an online presence. And meanwhile everyone has quickly adopted contactless payment via their phones. 

“Out of this was created Contactless Window Shopping to ensure a fast, frictionless way of connecting the high-street presence to the online one: finding products, booking appointments, seeing opening hours, or even accessing menus. I’m delighted that St Albans is the first high street in the UK to roll this out and hopefully it will help many businesses get back on their feet sooner.” 

The St Albans Business Improvement District (BID), which represents 500 city-centre businesses, is spearheading the introduction of this technology. 

Co-chairs of the St Albans BID, Councillor Mandy McNeill, Portfolio Holder Business, Culture and Tourism, and Sarah Gillow, owner of luxury jewellers Galio, said: “We are delighted to be trialling this new technology to help shoppers shop safely and to support our independent businesses during this difficult time. 

“With some of our smaller shops having limited capacity for customers, this tech means that you can literally window shop with one tap from your smartphone.” 

What are your thoughts on how successful this could be and what other shops in St Albans would you like to see participating? Answers below…

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Eating

The Hub Milton Keynes hosts our May #lunchNbloggers event

Lee Hall

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The Hub Milton Keynes Host #lunchNbloggers for the first time

The TrendLife Magazine team are excited to announce that #lunchNbloggers is back. We have been working hard to plan something special for our first post-lockdown event so we are happy to say we have chosen The Hub Milton Keynes.

This #lunchNbloggers will be the first event that features over five dining experiences as we discover all what The Hub has to offer. Located in the heart of Milton Keynes between Midsummer Boulevard and Avebury Boulevard, The Hub is home to a wide range of popular restaurants, bars and hotels.

The Hub Milton Keynes Host #lunchNbloggers for the first time

What to expect when #lunchNbloggers arrives at The Hub Milton Keynes

As part of The Hub #lunchNbloggers experience, we will sampling and experiencing some of the most popular dining destinations in Milton Keynes

  • Bogata – We will be starting with a Meet & Great at Milton Keynes’ first speciality coffee shop
  • Las Iguanas – Join us as we sample a slice of the Latin life which is on offer at The Hub
  • Turtle Bay – A bottomless brunch of Caribbean inspired dishes at Turtle Bay is next on the menu
  • Banana Tree – At the fabulous Banana Tree, we will be experiencing Japanese style private dining
  • Blossom Room – Sticking with the Japanese theme, we will be ending the night in style at the fabulous Blossom Room. Make sure you charge your phone for those instagram stories.

As with all our #lunchNbloggers events, the masterclass is always something special and we have arranged a Yoga masterclass with a twist at Sweat Studios. Chill out, stretch out or work out – it is your choice. As with all our masterclasses, everything you need will be provided.

The #lunchNbloggers Team at Harben House

About The Hub Milton Keynes

The Hub is a vibrant restaurant, cafe, hotel and lifestyle quarter in the very heart of Milton Keynes.

Register for #lunchNbloggers

#lunchNbloggers has always been and will remain FREE to attend. We occasionally ask for a small deposit to ensure those who are selected attend notify us in advance so we can offer this exclusive opportunity to another member of the #lunchNbloggers team. To register for this event, please complete the form below and remember to follow us on instagram for updates.

Dates

Thursday 27th May 2021
From Midday until late.

If you wish to attend but cannot take part in the Yoga masterclass, please let us know when you register.

Register


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Residents have voted on what is missing in Hitchin Town Centre

Lee Hall

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Hitchin is open for business

Just two years ago, Hitchin Town Centre had been named as a finalist in the Great British High Street Awards 2019. Despite losing out on the crown, Hitchin Town Centre has remained one of the more popular destinations in Hertfordshire. As times and demands change, town centres and high streets across Hertfordshire also need to change to meet the demands of residents and visitors coming from out of town.

As residents return to the cobbled streets around the town centre, we asked the question… ‘what is missing from Hitchin Town Centre?’ In total, we had over 200 individual responses with 40 different suggestions.

Here are the top ten things missing from Hitchin Town Centre.

From 10 to 1, below is a list of the top things voted for by Hitchin residents. Some notable responses that did not make the top ten include a Vietnamese restaurant, a gin bar, toy shop, escape room and art gallery.

10. McDonalds/KFC 2%

Would Hitchin residents welcome a busy fast food chain?

We are not sure McDonald’s in Hitchin would be a hit.

Would local residents really stomach a McDonalds in Hitchin Town Centre? Would Colonel Sanders be welcomed with open arms? These two fast food giants may bring the Big Mac, finger licking’ chicken and employment but what about the litter and UberEats riders? There are a number of issues that come hand in hand with today’s fast food giants.

9. Record store 3%

Owning music in a psychical format had been on a steady decline since 2010. However, nearly 5 million LPs were purchased in the UK last year alone. Most of these have been online but is there an opportunity for a savvy Hitchin entrepreneur to create a nostalgic record store experience?

8. Live outdoor entertainment 3%

Who doesn’t like getting out and experiencing live outdoor entertainment? Well, in most cases, councils don’t and they tend to be the decision makers on events in public spaces. Post-covid would be ideal for live outdoor entertainment to return to Hitchin Town Centre. The market place offers the space and Hitchin does have plenty of local talent.

Move over meat... Vegan burgers could be available in Hitchin soon

Move over meat… Vegan burgers could be available in Hitchin soon

7. Vegan restaurant 3%

With plant-based food businesses, festivals, and pop-ups booming, it’s clear that veganism is become a global phenomenon. Because of this changing trend, some larger towns and cities can boast of vegan only restaurants. A Hitchin vegan restaurant could become a reality soon as the demand is clearly there.

6. Independent book store 5%

Picking up 5% of votes, an independent Hitchin book store would probably struggle given that Waterstones is positioned in such a good place but Waterstones itself is currently in a battle online giant Amazon. Independent book stores tend to be more quirky and with the right ‘keeper of books’ behind the till, the experience of buying a book in person is a lot more rewarding than hear the thud of delivery hitting the passage floor.

For the remaining things missing in Hitchin, watch our video below and don’t forget to subscribe.

 

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St Albans favourites deny rumours of new High Street in the sky

Lee Hall

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New St Albans High Street

Late on Tuesday night, three high profile businesses in St Albans were forced to release statements denying involvement in the launch of a Super High Street above St Albans.

Three of the so called St Albans ‘Big Six’ – Chloe James Lifestyle, Must Wine Bar and Mad Squirrel – have all put out statements denying rumours they plan to create a new St Albans High. The remaining three are expected to make statements in the next 24 hours.

The announcement of a new St Albans High Street has caused enormous uproar across Hertfordshire and beyond, with near universal disbelief from shoppers, local residents and politicians – including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Unconfirmed plans suggest a monorail system will be constructed to take shoppers from the iconic clock tower to the yet-to-be confirmed new St Albans High Street somewhere above St Albans Cathedral.

New St Albans High Street

Entrance to St Albans’ proposed new Super High Street

Donna Nichol, owner of the popular independent fashion store Chloe James Lifestyle has issued a statement.

I have absolutely no idea where this has come from and ironically, I cannot see it getting off the ground. We have been welcoming back our customers and have enjoyed the buzz of a busy shop. Why would I want to move my store 30 feet above St Albans?

I have just recently updated the shop window with a new French brand called FRNCH – how will anyone see it? Ignore the rumours and find us where we have been keeping St Albans fashionable for the last ten years.

Chloe James Lifestyle prepares for lockdown reopening

Mad Squirrel St Albans have also put out a strong worded statement in response to news of the Super High Street. General Manager James has gone on record and said “Of the 25 beers we have on tap, nothing is that strong”.


We have been here in St Albans for almost two years and whilst we are accustomed to hearing the occasional bit of nonsense in the taproom, this idea is farcical. Beer and heights don’t mix so we will remain on the ground floor of St Albans in Heritage Close serving the finest beers to St Albans residents.”

Mad Squirrel has quickly established itself as one of the predominant beer destinations in St Albans. With access from the footpath towards the Abbey, it would seem a strange decision from management but when you are around beer all day, anything can happen.

Mad Squirrel St Albans

Mad Squirrel staff claimed to not have seen the plans

Local resident Isabelle Ringing who we interviewed shopping in St Albans said the idea was nonsense. “St Albans is unique and residents love it the way it is. Why? a monorail? I just can’t get my head around it – we don’t need this nonsense in St Albans.”

Have a glass or two at Must Wine Bar Harpenden

Must Wine located on George Street were also quick to release a statement in regards to the rumours. Wine Steward and c0-owner Mike Nuttall explained, “I get the idea – great minds drink alike and the concept of tasting the finest wines with breathtaking views of Hertfordshire is idyllic.

However, the individual who came up with the pour decision of running a monorail above St Albans is clearly on cloud wine.” Must Wine will continue run wine tasting classes on George Street.

As these rumours of a break-away high street continue to spread, the TrendLife team will continue to keep you updated with facts instead of fiction.

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