Retail and Consumer
Think Gloucestershire: The open secret that is Cheltenham’s thriving retail and food oasis
If ever there was proof in the adage ‘together we are stronger’ then it can be said of a small patch of Cheltenham that even for a town built on retail reputation hasbecome a shopping hotspot.
With its eclectic, balanced mix of independent traders, eateries and salons andperhaps the‘hidden’ nature of the shopping mecca making itconducive to the current need for extra security, it is thriving.
Whatever the ingredients, business people in The Courtyard are enjoying what they describe as a healthy resurgence in trade since reopening post lockdown as customers seek the retail thrills away from the high streets.
A major feature on the Cheltenham Bid website by Maria Allebone just as lockdown ceased flagged up the businesses gathered in the centre in the Montpellier quarter of the spa town, but none could have imagined a returned to trading would have gone this well - at least for most.
All of which also supports the drive by the county's mighty local enterprise partnership, GFirst LEP, to encourage us all to 'Think Gloucestershire' when it comes to shopping, eating out and holidays.
“I have been back open since June 16 and trade has been very good. We have a really good mix of shops here,” said Taylore Greene, owner of au Panache an independent family run boutique specialising in gift ware and home décor.
It sits adjacent to Beau Amis, Gemma Kay and Becky Hannis’s independent hairdressers.
“I would say 95 per cent of my trade has been my regular customers, and about five per cent has been visitors,” said Ms Greene.
“I think people have been spending more time at home and began thinking about ways they could improve where they live andmake it look better, and that brough them to my door.”
She said she thought the mix of what was on offer in The Courtyard was the key to its current success.
Across the two-storey square is the newly opened and already hugely popular Edible Art Patisserie, run by Damien Wager and Lizzie Nicholas (see the link below). With 70,000 followers on Instagram word spread fast about the shop’s exquisite creations and helped draw even more footfall.
Gallimore’s Kitchen is another new business proving a hit. On the ground floor of the centre its timing initially looked like it could not have been worse - opening just before the pandemic and then being forced to close due to lockdown.
But now open, it is full-on – perfectly complimenting the other businesses around it.
Lee Gallimore, chef and owner (pictured below, right) said: “It is crucial to have a good level of independent businesses together, away from the main line of High Street chains.
“We are very lucky with our place in Montpellier and to have a beautiful outside courtyard area for our customers to enjoy”.
An oasis the centremight be, but it is not immune to the twists and turns of Government guidelines as the nation continues to steer its way through the pandemic.
Kerry Taylor, runs Silks Cheltenham, described as ‘an unrivalled and exclusive choice of mother of the bride holiday, and occasion wear collections as well as stylish everyday wear’.
Reopening had been going well, until the change of mind from Number 10 on holidays and weddings.
“It was promising. You could see people were getting excited again, but when Boris made his decision my appointments got cancelled and I had to make a decision,” she said, adding all was not lost.
Bookings are available by appointment still and she has worked hard to open up the online side of the business so customers who simply will not give up can still get what they want.
Businesses in the Courtyard also include L’una Design and Kitchens by L’una, owned by husband and wife business partners, Dustin and Michelle Wise, TokyoTattoo Studios, owned by Deano Jouni, Independent barbers BiberianGray, owned by Steve Gray, Dee Biberian and their French bulldog Gizmo who moved into the ground floor of the arena just after lockdown.
Pictured above: Dee Biberian and Steve-Gray of Biberian Gray, and right, Gemma Kay and Becky Hannis of Beau Amis