Today is officially Black Friday but the ‘not to be missed’ and ‘amazing’ deals have been advertised for what seems like forever.
I do believe that many consumers are getting wise to this as there seems to be a degree of cynicism by the so-called deals. Most people love a bargain, deal, discount, saving – whatever you want to call it, however shops seem to be hosting year round sales. You have to question the authenticity of the deals and if they are indeed the ‘bargain of a lifetime’.
With Christmas fast approaching and households on a tight budget, you can understand the appeal of sales and online shopping – for many (including me) time is precious. However we need to do what we can to to shop local and Visa’s campaign this year is #WhereYouShopMatters and this should be not just for Christmas, but all year round.
The simple message is ‘Use It or Lose It’, but life isn’t always simple and we have restraints on both our time and budget but I will be doing everything I can to #ShopLocalBedford. My challenge this Christmas is for most of my shopping to be purchased locally – whether this is from an independent or national shop either instore or online. If online, I will click and collect (usually that is free) so it gives me an excuse to pop into town. This could be on the weekend where I will benefit from 2 hours free parking* on a Saturday or all day Sunday or Queen’s Street car park has 2 hours free every day. You can park there for 6 hours for £2.40, so a good days shopping, stop for coffee and lunch and maybe a stroll down the Embankment.
If you are wanting some inspiration then my personal recommendations are below. I have spoken to all these shopkeepers and I can guarantee they are really friendly and have no expectations when people walk into their shops, there’s no obligation to buy or indeed chat if you want a silent browse (this is from my experience – sometimes I can be happily anti-social!)
For children and families – Ready Steady Roll (just outside Sharnbrook, so a little drive out) for unusual and quirky board games (a great incentive for an electronics break) or a voucher so the family can visit for game playing, coffee and cake. Close Encounters (Allhallows), again unusual games and also comics, graphic novels and associated paraphernalia. Arcadia Sweet Shop (The Arcade) to satisfy all sweet teeth . Rollback World (Church Arcade) is all about the wheels….scooters, skateboards etc and Beales, Debenhams and Argos all offer great toys
And let’s not forget Rogan’s Books (Castle Lane), not only can you pick up children’s books and artwork, but you can choose to gift a book for a child in care. This is what is amazing about shopping locally as the books you gift will go to a local children. Whilst you are thinking of children less fortunate, pop to the Harpur Centre’s Wishing Tree, choose a tag, buy a new gift and pop in under the tree.
We have so many shops including independents offering a wealth of gifts and homewares for you! Epanoui (Mill Street) have unique jewellery and gifts as does Charisma (The Arcade). The Higgins (Castle Lane) and The Art Centre (Howard Street) sell great gifts including Bedford branded ones. Always a firm favourite is Slide Record Shop (The Arcade) – note to anyone thinking of buying for me, get me a gift voucher as I am particular! Eagle Gallery as well as art for sale they have a range of gifts and Eagle Bookshop are next to each other in their new home on St Peter’s Street.
For Fashionistas, I love Boutique Planet (The Arcade) – they posted a photo of great boots on Facebook, I commented to see if they had my size and I hot-footed into town and within 30 minutes, those boots were mine! Opposite is newly open Anorak and within a stones throw you have Maysons (High Street), Kean & Co (The Arcade) and Boyds of Bedford in Castle Lane. Bedford also has the nationals we all love including Primark, Debenhams, Peacocks, New Look, TK Maxx, Boots, Bonmarche, JD Sports, DW Sports and Next…….when I say #ShopLocalBedford, I also include the nationals as this is all part of our High Street and they employ local people who in turn will spend in the town.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the food! With GCH Fishmongers and Lingers Butchers next to each other, you won’t need to go anywhere else for your meat and fish. Lingers have also expanded to include a deli range. Across the road is Fays Coffee Shop where you can stop for a coffee and peruse their selection of food gifts. Just down the road in Lurke Street is Companions Bread, tasty bread baked on the premises and a little walk to Castle Road will take you to Foods of Italy (Bower Street) – an amazing deli.
A welcome addition to the town this year is The Blue Glass on St Peter’s Street, not only do they have a wide range of wine but you can also stop for a glass or two and a bite to eat. Around the corner on St Cuthbert’s Street is Beerfly – expert advice, gift sets and again, stop for a refreshing glass.
This is just a small selection for #ShopLocalBedford and I urge you to give it a go. If everyone were to challenge themselves to buy at least one gift for Christmas from our town, it would really make a difference.
#ShopLocalBedford – Let’s all use it before we lose it! Oh and whilst you shop you can help protect the Amazon (the rainforest – not the online shop!) and be entered into a prize draw.