An empty shop in Ashford is to host a unique initiative aimed at creating the high street entrepreneurs of the future.
PopUp Britain, the retail arm of national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain is to open PopUp Ashford in Park Mall shopping centre – and is looking for local online retail start-ups to take part.
The shop will be the first of its kind in Kent – and is set to open in September.
Emma Jones, StartUp Britain co-founder, said: “Our aim is to give the growing number of online retail start-ups a chance to test out their products in a physical high street environment, talking to their customers face-to-face and getting a feel for demand.
“Our shops not only provide a new shopping experience in the short term, and a buzz to the high street, they also bring a meaningful boost to the local economy for the long term.”
The pop-up shop will run for six months and new retailers will regularly share the space. The shop has the capacity to house up to ten local start-ups, co-working and co-funding the space at a time. Retailers will range from fashion to home wares, to unique handmade gifts and chocolates.
The shops reflect the trend that more than 70% of businesses are now started and run from home by people with a passion for what they do. According to a recent Government report into business, 95.5% of all British businesses are micro businesses, employing 7.8 million people and contributing 20% of private sector turnover.
The day-to-day running of the shop will be the responsibility of Ashford Borough Council on behalf of the Ashford Town Team. The team was appointed by Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk to oversee the revitalisation of the town centre with a view to improving the area’s future economic prosperity.
Ashford Town Team Manager Jo Wynn Carter said: “Initiatives like PopUp Britain go to the heart of our mission – to continue to make sure we provide opportunities and all the support we can for new businesses to enhance and improve our town centre offer.
“PopUp Ashford will offer local businesses a chance to get onto the high street, meet customers and fellow entrepreneurs and grow their business for the long term. We are delighted that PopUp Ashford will find a home here and bring life back into this part of the town centre.”