Welcome back: The lure of fashionable Montpellier draws back the customers
One of the most stylish and fashionable shopping quarters in Gloucestershire has been described as ‘thriving’ post-lockdown.
Traders are happy to admit that shopping habits have changed and nerves are still being steadied, but they are enthusiastic – and busy.
From retail to rental, from salon to fashion the message is clear – the strong mix of up-market and interesting independents is an irresistible draw.
All of which has been captured in a series of video interviews released to The Raikes Journal by Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce.
The work by the chamber and feedback from the independents will be music to the ears of GFirst LEP, the local enterprise partnership leading the county-wide economic recovery strategy, with the general consensus from Montpellier on song with the LEP's 'Shop, Eat, Treat Thinking Gloucestershire campaign'.
The campaign aims to encourage people to support businesses here in Gloucestershire as the county battles though the pandemic.
“Since lockdown Montpellier has been thriving,” said Margaret Cavanagh, of Neil’s Yard Remedies. “Slowly but surely it has been building up. People are on the street, they feel comfortable. If you go to The Courtyard there are two new businesses are opening. It has a real buzz to it.”
Ellie Wardle, who runs The Paragon Gallery, said the impact had been very real and the effects of lockdown would take a while to shake off – but the direction of travel was positive.
“The gallery is going to be a slow burn to get back up to where it was retail-wise. But I think it will get there eventually. There certainly seems to be more confidence out there.”
Ms Wardle, who also runs the annual Cheltenham Fresh: Art Fair event – which brings together 50 leading galleries featuring as many as 600 UK and international artists – said the pandemic had seen off one of its events with another was postponed until November (27-29).
“What we need to know is what is going to happen going forward. At the moment we can’t plan and it is driving everyone crazy,” she added.
Richard Dare, of men’s fashion boutique and tailor James of Montpellier, said: “The first week we had a really good week. I think people were just itching to get out. Since then it has been quite steady. On the whole it has not been as bad as we thought it might have been.”
Sam Trueman, of CGT Lettings, said business for July had been on par with last year.
“Last summer we did 63 move-ins. This summer, or July, we have done 62. The amount of new instructions that are coming on are way up on last year as well. The market is very, very strong,” said Mr Trueman.
He was also able to give a quick plug to an intriguing sideline – a book published by CGT Lettings owner Paula Baldwin entitled Cheltenham During the Lockdown 2020, a collection of images of the town during the last few weeks.
All proceeds from the sale of the book, available from CGT Lettings on 116 The Promenade, will go to Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, the firm’s chosen charity.
The video is part of a series put together for the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce by Dan Harris and edited by Julian Wellings, Expertise on Tap.